Location tracking is a feature in Google’s Android operating system that allows apps and Google to pinpoint a user’s location via GPS. Google Maps, for instance, use this feature to provide turn-by-turn directions, and third-party shopping apps use it to display relevant stores and promotional offers based on the user’s location. But if you think disabling location tracking in your Android device’s settings will prevent Google from tracking you, think again.
As explained by TechCrunch, Google has been collecting location data on Android users even if the device’s location tracking has been turned off. These revelations come in the wake of an investigation into Android’s tracking privacy by Quartz.
Quartz also discovered that removing the SIM card from an Android handset didn’t stop it from sending location data to Google. Normally, location data used by apps is sent via the SIM. The Android devices investigated by Quartz, however, sent location data using wireless networks if they didn’t already have a SIM installed.
Quartz raised the location tracking issue with Google to which the search engine giant responded that it would stop the practice by the end of November. In the meantime, however, Android users will continue to send location data to Google, regardless of whether this feature is disabled.
So, why is Google collecting location tracking data on Android users? In an interview with Quartz, a Google spokesperson said the company didn’t use or store the data. The location data was simply part of the Android’s architecture for managing push notifications and messages.
You can’t stop Google from collecting location data by disabling the location tracking feature in your device’s settings, nor can you stop it by removing the SIM card. You can, however, prevent it by disabling the Wi-Fi with the SIM removed. This is the only way to stop your device from sending location data until Google stops this practice