Let all those questioning their open-source smartphone overlord be silent. Responding to the recent ruckus caused by an O’Reilly article and subsequent report by The Wall Street Journal, Google has let it be known that it is not tracking your location… unless you give it permission. In a statement to blog TechCrunch, Google writes:
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.
The Wall Street Journal called in to question the notion that data sent to Google was, in fact, anonymous. Google addressed this claim, stating that when users opt-in to the service data is often linked with a phone’s unique identifier . The unique identifier is not, however, then partnered with a phone number, serial number, name, or email address — making it difficult for Google to associate the location information with a specific user. Apple has yet to issue a statement about the utility of its gathered location data.