It should go without saying that if you like any of Google’s services, you’re expected to share your private data with Google. You get free access to neat things like Google Search, Gmail, Maps and Android OS, and in return you let Google show you highly tailored ads that are based on your incredibly complex Google profile. It’s a win-win situation, if you will.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Google collects an incredible amount of data about you, especially from that device you use most, your Android phone. And it might all happen without your knowledge, a new report explains.
Using three distinct Android phones, namely the Google Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy S8 and Moto Z Droid, Quartz tracked all the data that leaves your phone to reach Google’s servers.
The phones were not connected to a cellular network. Instead, they were hooked up to a portable internet-connected Wi-Fi network able to eavesdrop on all the transmissions sent and received by these phones.
Here’s the kind of data your Android device transmits to Google on a regular basis:
- A list of types of movements that your phone thinks you could be doing, by likelihood. (e.g. walking: 51 percent, on bicycle: 4 percent, in rail vehicle: 3 percent)
- The barometric pressure
- Whether or not you’re connected to Wi-Fi
- The MAC address — which is a unique identifier — of the Wi-Fi access point you’re connected to
- The MAC address, signal strength and frequency of every nearby Wi-Fi access point