Researcher Questions Google Play Location Tracking

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Is Google making it more difficult than it should to stop tracking on newer Android devices? One security researcher thinks so.

In a series of tweets, security researcher Mustafa Al-Bassam said that he noticed that Google Play was tracking his location and suggesting apps based on where he was, NDTV reports. He initially thought Google Maps was tracking him and delivering information back to Google to recommend apps, but quickly discovered that Google Play was really to blame.

But the problem doesn't stop there, Al-Bassam says. When he tried to turn off location-tracking in Google Play, the app automatically recommended that he not do so. By turning off Google Play tracking, the alert said, all installed apps would also lose the feature. In other words, get tracked by us or not at all.

According to Al-Bassam, Google is "encouraging" its developers to use its own Google Play location application programming interface (API). Upon doing so, any location information is reliant upon Google Play location tracking remaining on, he says.

Such a feature could create angst among users who don't like the idea of being tracked. And the fact that Google isn't offering users individual control over when they can be tracked is troublesome, if nothing else.

However, it's unclear at this point how many users are affected, and Al-Bassam says it only seems to affect those running newer versions of Android and Google Play. Exactly what versions, however, are unknown. Google did not respond to a request for comment.

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