Yes, Android phones are tracking your movements too

22 April 2011


As the furore over the sneaky tracking of iPhone user’s movements rumbles on, it has now emerged that Android phones are doing a very similar thing, bad news for those of us who don’t want our mobiles to be recording our every movement for no apparent good reason. The guys over on the Mobot side of the office really don't want us to know where they've been.

The data recorded by Android phones isn’t as extensive as on iPhones – the locations and unique IDs of the last 50 mobile masts it has communicated with are stored, along with the last 200 wi-fi networks that it has ‘seen’ and info is over-written once that limit is reached.

The information is harder to find in the phone and at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that any of it is sent to Google, unlike the iPhone data, which could theoretically be forwarded automatically to Apple if the phone’s user has agreed to provide them with ‘diagnostic information’.

The Android data collecting was discovered by Swedish programmer Magnus Eriksson, who said: “Following the latest days’ internet outrage/overreaction to the revelation that iPhone has a cache for its location service, I decided to have look what my Android devices caches for the same function”.

Is it an overreaction or should we be concerned by the fact that our phones are tracking our movements? Has real life suddenly turned into a bad episode of The Prisoner? Tell us dear readers… TELL US!

TOPICS:   Mobile   Privacy


  • Alex
    Get a windows phone 7 then, dont track at all! microsoft have come out and said that
  • Al
    Pretty weak week for tech stories really if this is causing the uproar it is. iOs more relevant than android due to android owners being more tech savvy than the iPhone lemmings. @Alan buy a windows phone, seriously? Although much improved pretty much consigned to use as work phones, in fact everyone I know that has one has it supplied by their employer.
  • fra
    "could theoretically be forwarded to Apple" you mean int he way the Android data could be theoretically forwarded to Google, or any info on any mobile phone could be theoretically forwarded to any mobile phone operator, or service provider or an app developer. This whole issue is such a non-privacy issue, mobile phone operators hold info on calls made and which masts they were fed through. Your whereabouts are logged on CCTV, through credit and debit card transactions, booking into hotels, airports etc, even your Oyster Card or any other travel card logs where you have been. The log on a phone, iPhone or otherwise is used by your phone to allow it to operate faster and give you a better range of services. This isn't even news as it has been published before, just seems to have been "sexed" up by a couple of academic types trying to make a name for themselves. Can't we have some sensible discussion rather than the crazed privacy frenzy that is going on?
  • Apple’s B.
    [...] it was revealed that the Apple (and latterly, Android) handsets record and store a user’s location without permission, there’s been outrage, [...]
  • Privacy B.
    Although everyone thought their Android phones were sending back the occasional pings from a few apps, the reality was that Google was collecting user data for its databases. The company was building its database about Wi-Fi router locations, then using the data to get location fixes by other Android phones. The location-based data is also used to add traffic data to Google Maps. At the, we take a look at privacy issues worldwide. We also help prepare candidates for the CIPP certification exams. To learn more about Android phones and user tracking, check out our blog at:

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