WSJ: Google’s Android phones track users, just like Apple products

Following news that Apple’s popular iPhone and iPad products keep files tracking users’ movements, the Wall Street Journal reports smartphones using Google’s Android operating system transmit users’ locations to Google.

Apple phones also transmit similar data, the Journal reports.

Google and Apple are gathering location information as part of their
race to build massive databases capable of pinpointing people’s
locations via their cellphones. These databases could help them tap the
$2.9 billion market for location-based services–expected to rise to $8.3
billion in 2014, according to research firm Gartner Inc.

In the case of Google, according to new
research by security analyst Samy Kamkar, an HTC Android phone collected
its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at
least several times an hour. It also transmitted the name, location and
signal strength of any nearby Wi-Fi networks, as well as a unique phone
identifier.
(snip)

Cellphones have many reasons to collect location information, which
helps provide useful services like local-business lookups and
social-networking features. Some location data can also help cellphone
networks more efficiently route calls.

Google also has said it uses some of the data to build accurate
traffic maps. A cellphone’s location data can provide details about, for
instance, how fast traffic is moving along a stretch of highway.

The widespread collection of location information is the latest
frontier in the booming market for personal data. Until recently, most
data about people’s behavior has been collected from personal computers:
That data generally can be tied to a city or a zip code, but it is
tough to be more precise. The rise of Internet-enabled cellphones,
however, allows the collection of user data tied with much more
precision to specific locations.

The full story is worth reading.