Google has collected location-identifying information from Android smartphones over the past 11 months even when location services were switched off, reported Quartz.
Android phones sent the identifier of the cellular tower they were connected to, or cell ID, to Google’s servers.
Google confirmed that cell IDs were included in the data sent back to its system that manages push notifications.
Google was experimenting with using cell ID codes to increase the speed of message delivery earlier this year, but it never used the data in its network sync system.
The company said the data was discarded and no cell ID information was stored.
It promised to stop sending cell tower information from Android phones outside of usual location services.