Google defused a confrontation with European privacy regulators by announcing it would give the owners of Wi-Fi routers worldwide the option of removing their devices from a registry Google uses to locate cellphone users.
According to Google, since GPS is not always available and many applications require location data to work, the company must use another method to determine a person's location. They also use data from nearby cell towers, but Google believes this is not always accurate and decided to access publicly broadcast Wi-Fi data from wireless access points to improve location-based services like Google Maps and others. The company says the data collected is entirely anonymous and it helps find a device's location faster and without battery drain.
Google is not the only company that has drawn scrutiny for its practice of gathering location data. Earlier this year Apple was also in the spotlight after researchers found files on the iPhone that routinely logged the location of users, which was saved unencrypted and unprotected on any machine that users synced their iOS device with. The company addressed the issue with a software fix that erased the file when users' disabled location services.
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