First it was Apple iPhones that were identified as being capable of transmitting location data, now it’s been revealed that Google Android phones from HTC can track individuals.
The Wall Street Journal who have been running their own investigations claim that both Google and Apple are gathering location information as part of their race to build massive databases capable of pinpointing people’s locations via their mobilephone.
The data could help them tap the $2.9 billion market for location-based services. What is not known is whether criminal elements can also track individuals or whether any of the data obtained from Android and iPhone’s will be handed over to Government Authorities by either Apple or Google especially in Countries like China where doing business could be conditional on an exchange of information.
According to security analyst Samy Kamkar, an HTC Android phone collected its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at least several times an hour. It also transmitted the name, location and signal strength of any nearby Wi-Fi networks, as well as a unique phone identifier.
The WSJ said that until last year, Google was collecting similar Wi-Fi data with its fleet of StreetView cars that map and photograph streets world-wide. The company shut down its StreetView Wi-Fi collection last year after it inadvertently collected e-mail addresses, passwords and other personal information from Wi-Fi networks.
Apple, meanwhile, says it “intermittently” collects location data, including GPS coordinates, of many iPhone users and nearby Wi-Fi networks and transmits that data to itself every 12 hours, according to a letter sent to US Government representitives probing the isssue.