KCC to investigate Google over unlawful data collection

26 November, 2017, 01:22 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Google is facing scrutiny for reportedly collecting data about the location of smartphone users without their knowledge

The information was captured by the phone and routinely sent to Google by any modern Android device, even when location services were turned off and the sim card was removed.

"It seems quite intrusive for Google to be collecting such information that is only relevant to carrier networks when there are no SIM card or enabled services", Matthew Hickey, a security expert and researcher, told media in London.

Quartz found since January, Android devices have been collecting Cell ID codes and sending the information to Google.

While Google confirmed the practice to Quartz, the search giant said it would end the practice by the end of November and Android smartphones will no longer send cell-tower location data to Google, reports Quartz.

The benefit of having the address of the mobile phone mast to ensure message service reliability is not clear, but through a process of triangulation - the same used to assist when a user is actively using location services - the position of the user can be revealed down to a roughly 400m radius at a minimum, and often much more accurately in urban areas.

Google Inc. has said - while confirming the practice-that it was ending the practice by the end of the month.

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Google has come under scrutiny due to reportedly collecting data that shows the locations of users of smartphones without the users' knowledge.

"We never incorporated Cell ID into our network sync system, so that data was immediately discarded", it said in a statement. It happens even when a device has no SIM card and when Global Positioning System location services are disabled. The only way to stop it would be possible only when Google make changes to Android.

A spokesperson told The Verge that the cellular tower data was supposed to make message delivery faster, but Google made a decision to ditch the plan.

Report claimed, this practice was not used to enhance the ad-serving system, but rather to improve what Google calls its "heartbeat system", which ensures that the Android Phones remain connected and users get their messages properly and quickly.

No official investigation was launched as of yet, and additional information will be needed that will come from the US headquarters of Google, said the KCC official.

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