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Google Restricts Apps From Using Location Tracking Tool That Sold User Data

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Google said on Thursday that it banned a company called SafeGraph for selling Android users’ location data. The company reportedly obtained the location data by having developers embed SafeGraph’s code within their apps.

U.S. lawmakers have long been at odds with tech giants over their collective reluctance to crack down on data gathering. Google has been at the center of attention for its treatment of location data within its own apps.

Among SafeGraph’s clients was the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The CDC was gathering data as part of its fight against the coronavirus, as per Motherboard (via CNET). Google went on to say that it has sent 7-day warnings in June to all apps associated with SafeGraph.

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Google was previously in hot water following reports of its location-tracking practices

App developers were then asked to remove all code that helped SafeGraph procure data. Google said that failure to do so would lead to action against the developers. The CDC and SafeGraph haven’t commented on the new revelations as of yet.

A 2018 investigation by the Associated Press revealed how location data was managed by Google on Android phones. The report highlighted that Google continued to track people’s location even with the Location History setting turned off. Location tracking can be disabled completely by turning off the Web and Apps Activity toggle.

Regardless of the past, there has been a constant focus on improving privacy within the Android ecosystem. This explains why the next major upgrade, Android 12, will introduce a handful of features focused on transparency and privacy, including the new Privacy Dashboard.

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Making its debut with Android 12 Beta 2, Privacy Dashboard tells users when their data is being accessed by an app. It can also show the frequency of data collection. This helps users adjust the necessary permissions for any given app.

With the final build of Android 12 just a month away, we’re hoping to learn more about what’s in store for Android in terms of privacy. Google will also unveil the Pixel 6 in September as the flag bearer for stock Android phones.