Smartphones running Android software could gather data about locations and send them to Google, even if the users turn off location services, use no apps, and don't insert a SIM card, a Quartz investigation reported on Tuesday.
"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.
Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers and sending the data to Google's system, according to a Google spokesperson.
Therefore Google has access to data about individuals' locations and movements, even when their phones are turned off or disconnected from the Internet, which violates the privacy of smartphone users.
The spokesperson said the collected data was never used or stored and promised that by the end of November, Android phones will no longer send cellular tower location data to Google.
From China Daily