That's unless your smartphone runs Android, because Google will keep tracking you even if you've disabled location services, when you're on Wi-Fi only, or when there's not even a SIM installed in the device. All the device needs to grab a user's location is a cellular data or Wi-Fi connection, the investigation found.
The spokesperson said that the Cell ID data was required to enhance the speed of message delivery, but the data collected was "immediately discarded" and the network sync system was recently instructed to no longer request it. And if your Android phone has been hacked in any way, others may be able to tap into that location data stream without your knowledge - and without Google's knowledge. This practice has been in place since the beginning of the year and, according to Google, these addresses have been used in the same system used it uses to manage push notifications and messages on Android.
There is nothing you can do at this time to stop it other than wait for Google to stop doing it at the end of this month as they promised.
Some researchers have said that although the data is encrypted, it is possible to send the data to third party services if the handset is affected with spyware.
As a result, Google's parent company Alphabet whose original moto was "Don't be Evil, ' has access to consumer data that is at odds with users" privacy expectations. The search giant has said that the Android phones have been collecting the data and sharing it with Google even when the location services are switched off.
The disadvantage of Google Maps Timeline is that anyone who gets access to a user's Google login information can see a complete record of their movements, potentially going back for years. It works by finding the address of the nearest cellular towers, and while it's not possible to pinpoint your location based on only that, it can be triangulated down to a quarter-mile radius.
One source claims Google started collecting location data after a change in early 2017 to the Firebase Cloud Messaging service.
It is unclear how identifying the nearest cell tower could be used to improve Google's message services. Each phone has a unique ID number, with which the location data can be associated.