News that Apple was collecting location data behind user’s backs caused quite a stir, and as expected caused those in the industry to take a second look at what Google might be doing with tracking info collected from Android smartphones. Google won’t deny that they do collect user location data, but they were quick to point out that they won’t do it without permission. In a statement made responding to the claims, Google said:
“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 real debate, as brought up by the Wall Street Journal, concerns the anonymity of the user the data is collected from. Turns out those fears are mostly unfounded as well. A unique identifier is attached to the location data, but that identifier, which corresponds with the phone, is not paired with any person data such as phone number, name, or email address. Therefore the ability to pinpoint the specific user of any specific phone is virtually nonexistent.
Unlike Google, Apple has yet to come forward with the reason behind collecting user location data.