back to article Location tracking report: X-Mode SDK use much more widespread than first thought

Apps that tracked and sold people's whereabouts were more prevalent than perhaps first thought. A report out today has identified 450 Android apps downloaded 1.7 billion times that used SDKs to track the location of smartphones. Many of these programs were using an SDK called X-Mode, which Apple and Google banned at the end of …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    WTF?

    Why ?

    "Google [requires] apps that scan for Bluetooth devices also to have access to full Location Services, and that Google’s Location Services have to be running "

    What is the technical justification for that ?

    If I activate mobile data and call on Google Maps, I expect to get a request for location data, and if I'm on Google Maps on my phone, it's most probably because I'm looking to get somewhere, so I will activate location data. It is useful to me to be located so I know where to go.

    There is absolutely zero use to me to be located if I'm using headphones. I'm listening to music - where I am is none of your damn business.

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Why ?

      Then go into your Permission control panel and kill off location permission for every app that you feel doesn't need that information.

      In my case, that's every app, period. Including Location Services and Carrier Services. Had it set that way for years now.

      The apps will almost always work fine without the location data, it's just something additional they are getting from you for free. Because you let them.

      So, stop letting them. It's your phone.

    2. iron Silver badge

      Re: Why ?

      Google Maps does not need to know your location. It works perfectly well if you type location(s) which may or may not be where you are. I don't even let Maps have location permission.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why ?

      It's not about you, it never was. It is and always will be about business.

      People trade data (privacy and PII) for the use of goog products/services. You clicked Agree, or you wouldn't be able to use it. It's all in the ULA.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why ?

      This was the point where my dislike of Google's practices finally trumped my dislike of Apple's walled-garden. There is no reason, that I can see, why the permissions couldn't be more fine-grained, but Google saw an opportunity to trick/coerce us into sharing our location.

      My next phone may have to begin with an 'i'. Privacy, or the illusion of, is getting expensive.

    5. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Why ?

      because if you turn on your Bluetooth for headphones apps _can_ track your location, no matter what settings you have. Google is trying to tell you that turning on Bluetooth necessarily reveals your location and there is nothing they can do about it. It's not their fault that Bluetooth is a wireless protocol that enables store to track you. You need to OK that for apps you trust.

      Sounds like you _have_ been using Bluetooth without realising the consequences.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Samsung's bulit-in VPN service requires location to be enabled

    Why?

  3. Immenseness

    Why?

    "What is the technical justification for that ?"

    My guess - there is no technical reason, but I could guess at the reason; Google would like you to always have fine location services, wifi and bluetooth always turned on and available so the OS can continuously monitor and report the location of the phone. Some people were turning off GPS/Wifi and Bluetooth when not needed, and so the OS didn't have access to that data, In the guise of security, things were changed so it was all but impossible to use your favourite apps without turning on and crucially, leaving on location services in the hope that people would just leave it all turned on all the time because it is easier. Just my guess.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google's sewer leaking the usual shit

    See ^^

  5. find users who cut cat tail

    …we do not categorize all usage of trackers as malicious…

    We do.

    Maybe the entity with malicious intent is the app developer, maybe not. But there is always one, somewhere.

  6. ThatOne Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Location data yes, but don't share it

    I actually have no problem with apps knowing where they are, for some minor benefits (Google maps showing your position, weather widget showing the weather of where you actually are, and so on).

    What I'd like to be able to forbid, it that those apps share that location data with people who have no real business having it. Obviously that won't ever happen, unlike Vegas, what happens in the phone never stays in the phone.

  7. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

    So the real problem with the X-Mode library

    .. is that it shares information with companies that are not Google. Presumably it is cheaper for X-Mode to pay the devs for the location information that to pay Google for the same information.

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