Your Android is Tracking Itself as Well

Earlier this week the interwebs were a buzz about recently discovered un-encrypted location data that is saving to your iPhone. The iPhone has a consolidated.db file so deeply rooted in its operating system that it is not visible to you on your phone. While this was not surprising in the least and most likely agreed upon by updating to iOS 4 the real concern was its un-protected state. With that water under our bridge and a comment from Apple surely on the way, Samy Kamkar a security analyst wants to make sure you Android users don’t feel left out.

According to the report published by the Wall Street Journal, Kamkar used an HTC Android phone that collects pretty much the same data “every few seconds”, which is then dispersed to Google “several times an hour”. The data in question is the devices latitude, longitude, the time and date it was recorded as well as the name, signal strength and location of nearby Wi-Fi networks. The difference you ask? Well it’s a bit harder to access.

Mike Castleman a researcher has developed a program of sorts that can gather this information from your Android device for your viewing pleasure – just in case you forgot where you have been of course. While it’s not nearly as cool looking and a bit harder to access as its iOS equivalent the information is pretty much the same. Time stamped latitude and longitude information that requires root access to the device and a bit of understanding in command line writing. If you would like to check out Castleman’s program go here; github.com/packetlss/android-locdump/blob/master/README.md#readme. Again you will need root access to your phone and command writing know-how to view.

Location data is surely very valuable information to the likes of Apple and Google but is it a must? The idea of my phone tracking itself is not surprising to me nor is it reason to abandon my smart phone for a ‘dumb phone’ that most likely provides the same information to the carrier. All I can say is welcome to the future.

Android users does this bother you? Or is it expected and a non-story? Let us know in the comments.

Oh and by the way Android users. If this location thing is freaking you out go to your Settings -> Location & Security -> Use wireless networks and un-check it. This will stop the data from being recorded.

Also a comment by Google, in case you didn’t know this already.

“All location sharing on Android is opt-in by the user. We provide users with notice and control over the collection, sharing and use of location in order to provide a better mobile experience on Android devices. Any location data that is sent back to Google location servers is anonymized and is not tied or traceable to a specific user.”

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