Google collected data from a previously unknown Android service that included the location of the users.
Companies which collect personal data without the consent of users is a severe problem in today’s world. In theory, the reasons for collecting this personal data is usually innocuous, and it’s easy to see why people don’t trust big companies with their information.
The user’s location is one of the most treasured secrets, and people won’t typically consent to share this with other entities. Still, our phones are collecting all sorts of information, and if you’re not careful enough, the information will be uploaded.
Mobile Network Insights sounds boring, but it’s not
A report from Reuters revealed that Android had, until recently, a network service called Mobile Network Insights. It was used by Google to gather data about the strength of the carrier signal, and for that, it also collected your location.
The data was then sent, anonymously, to wireless network carriers, allowing them to see where the network needed to be expanded or reinforced. It sounds like a good idea, but it’s also true that Mobile Network Insights was not made public.
Strangely enough, Android only collected this data from people who agreed with sharing the location history and diagnostics with Google when the phone is set up for the first time. If you didn’t agree, then all the data remained private. Also, the program only worked in the United States.
For some reason, the Mobile Network Insights was discontinued in April, without a peep from Google. It’s possible that the company anticipated the fallout from a public outcry and pulled the plug. It’s also worth noting that the US wireless carriers are not happy with the decision because they no longer have accurate information about mobile signal strength.
It’s unclear if something else will take the place of Mobile Network Insights, and if other phone manufacturers are gathering this type of data without telling people.