The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) “is conducting out an inquiry into the allegations that Google collected users’ Cell ID data without permission even when their smartphone’s location assistance was inactive,” Chun Ji-Hyun, head of KCC’s retirement infringement division, told News on Friday.
U.K. data protection administrators are also looking into the matter.
“Organizations are obligated by law to be clear with consumers about what they are doing with the personal information,” said a spokesperson for the Information Commissioner’s Office. “We are aware of the statements about the tracking system and are in contact with Google.”
The probes develop a report by News which found Android phones have been gathering addresses of nearby cellular towers. Those addresses were included in knowledge, such as Cell ID codes, sent to Google for nearly a year.
Google said the data was received to improve notifications and message delivery and was not saved on Google servers. Android phones are no longer begging Cell ID codes, and collection should be phased out this month, it said.
“In January of this year, we began seeing into using Cell ID codes as an added signal to further improve the speed and execution of message delivery,” a Google spokesman said in a statement to News.
Google never included the data into its system, “so that data was promptly discarded, and we updated the network system to no longer request Cell ID,” the spokesperson added.
If Google handled Cell IDs without consent, the firm may have violated South Korea’s Location Data Protection Act, whether the data was saved on Google’s U.S. servers or not, said Hwang Sun-Chul, an official with KCC’s function privacy infringement division.
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