Users who have taken all those precautions like turning off Global Positioning System, not using any apps, and when carrier SIM card is disabled or haven't inserted, the data is still transmitted.
According to The Times, since the beginning of the year, Android phones, which use Google's mobile operating system, have been recording the locations of mobile masts and sending the data back to Google - regardless of people's location settings. But starting earlier this year, cell tower ID information began getting collected from Android devices as well as the result of a change to Google's Firebase messaging platform. So basically, even if you had the "location services" turned off, you were still being tracked.
That leaves the door open for Google to keep tracking users in the future, perhaps as part of a different system, even when they have Location Services switched off.
A Google spokesperson told ZDNet that modern Android phones use a network sync system that requires the use of mobile country codes and mobile network codes, to ensure messages and notifications are received quickly.
Users have always had the choice of stopping tech companies from collecting data on them in exchange to giving up the benefits of certain services. The report states that Android devices were sharing their location even when there was no SIM card installed and the user disabled location services.
This activity continued by using the same mechanism that Google uses to transmit notifications and messages to users. Personal data such as political views to their purchase histories to their locations have done wonders for these companies to target their marketing campaigns. Most concerning is that the info was sent from smartphones that have location services turned off.
Not only has Google stated that it has never kept the data, but Android devices will no longer send cell tower data to the company without consent.
Quartz observed the data collection occur and contacted Google, which confirmed the practice.
Google should have at least asked people's opinion about this experiment or should have let them know about it.
According to news site Quartz, since January Google has been using a practice that "pings" nearby telephone masts and gathers their addresses before sending the information back to the technology giant. But outlets point out the description leaves room for transparency in regards to exactly what kind of data it's collecting.