On the heels of controversy concerning researchers’ revelations about the tracking and storage of users’ location data on Apple iPhones and 3G-enabled iPad tablets comes news that Google also collects location data of people using its Android phones. The New York Times reports:
Google said Friday that it collected location data from Android phones, but that it did so anonymously and with user consent. The company said it gathered the data to provide services like maps and searches for shops or restaurants near a person’s location. The company said it also used the information to estimate traffic on various roads.
“Phones know where you are, and they need to for many of the services we offer,” said Mike Nelson, a Google spokesman. […]
While many privacy advocates and iPhone users said they were alarmed by the discovery, some security experts said they believed Apple was collecting the data not to track users but to be able to pinpoint a phone’s location more quickly, saving bandwidth and battery life, when their owners used location-based services like maps and navigation. Some also said Google was collecting similar data and also storing it on phones. […]
Mr. Nelson said that while Google tied the location to a unique identifier, it did not link it to a person. Some privacy advocates, however, believe that given a phone’s movements, it would be easy to identify the person to whom it belongs.