Google Also Tracking Users Location History, Says Android is Opt-in

Last few days have been very noisy as Apple iPhone and iPad 3G were supposedly tracking user’s location in the background on an unencrypted database file stored on iPhone & iPads 3G, to retrieve device’s location(s) for a reasonable amount of time. Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO has been asked to explain the behavior by “Senator Al Franken”.

That’s not it, Wall Street Journal disclosed that Google’s Android devices are doing the same by sending location data from devices to their servers. Sounds pretty much ominous but Google confirmed that it’s an opt-out feature.

Here’s their statement:

“All location sharing on Android is opt-in by the user. We provide users with notice and control over the collection, sharing and use of location in order to provide a better mobile experience on Android devices. Any location data that is sent back to Google location servers is anonymized and is not tied or traceable to a specific user.”

But, even then, the WSJ article also refers to data that isn’t actually being anonymized by Google:

Google previously has said that the Wi-Fi data it collects is anonymous and that it deletes the start and end points of every trip that it uses in its traffic maps. However, the data, provided to the Journal exclusively by Mr. Kamkar, contained a unique identifier tied to an individual’s phone.

Google explained that data transmitted to servers is allocated a “Unique Identification Number” that has nothing to do with the user name, IMEI of device and other relevant information. Tracking a user with that data would definitely take lot of effort.

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