While many Android phone users expressed their concerns over security practices, Google has defended the way it collects location data from Android users. According to reports, the company’s smartphones regularly transmit location information back to its servers.
According to a report by a security analyst this week, Google collected location data from Android phone users every few seconds, which was sent back to Google several times an hour.
A spokesperson from Google said on Friday that all location sharing on Android is opt-in by the user. It was made clear that this definition of ‘opt-in’ does not mean the system is off by default for people who use the typical Android set-up.
In fact, when an Android phone is activated, a screen appears saying Google’s service provides location to applications and that it will collect anonymous data even if no apps are running. The box to accept or decline this is checked by default. Users have to uncheck this box before proceeding. For users bypassing this step entirely, location services are not turned on.
Google stated that they 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. They also added that all data sent back to Google servers are totally anonymized and is not tied or traceable back to a specific Android user.
According to the tests conducted by the security analyst, transmissions included the unique ID, which is tied to the specific device. According to Google, this ID is associated to location and not with other user information. They also stated that the user can change this ID by performing a factory reset of the device.
It has been for a long period of time that Google has defended its collection of location data, which is helpful in providing services such as accurate traffic maps. Google has never changes its stance on this policy.
Google is not the only company facing flack over its policy in collecting data. Apple has been accused of collecting and storing location data for months. Apple, however, refused to respond to any allegations or questions from the media.