Gadgets collect this data when connected to the Internet, and send them back to Google. This was reported by the portal Quartz.
From the beginning of 2017, smartphones determine the user’s location at the addresses of the nearest base stations. Gadgets transmit this information when they fall into the coverage area of another mobile tower. Using several stations, you can determine where the owner of the smartphone is located to within a quarter of a mile (or, in the city, even more accurate).
Since the user can not disable this feature, this goes far beyond the reasonable expectations of consumers regarding confidentiality. For representatives of some professions (for example, law enforcement officials), victims of domestic violence, keeping the location secret is extremely important.
Despite the fact that the data sent to Google, encrypted, they can be stolen by hackers: if, for example, the smartphone has malware. Each gadget is known to have a unique identification number.
As clarified in the press service of Google, the collected data was never used and not stored. And now, when it became known about “espionage,” the company intends to no longer practice this opportunity.