Some Android Phones Will Track You No Matter What

Depending on the OS, opting out of tracking may not make a difference

A team of researchers has discovered that some Android phones will continue to track you, even after you opt out.

It turns out that, even if you tell your Android phone not to track and send your information out, it might be doing it anyway, depending on the OS. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh (UK) and Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) tested six versions of Android OS, finding that most of them never stop collecting data.

Spying on another person's cell phone

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The paper analyzes the data traffic from Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme, Huawei, LineageOS, and /e/OS variants of Android OS. The research shows that only /e/OS avoids collecting and sending data.

Every other version of AndroidOS tested will continue to collect and send your information, even after you tell your phone not to—even when it's idle.

The information collected and where it's sent depends on the OS, as well. For example, LineageOS will share your telemetry, app logging details, and third-party app data to Google.

Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, and Realme versions all send more information to various companies, including themselves, Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Huawei, in particular, goes as far as to send "...the timing and duration of every app window viewed by a user."

Basically, a variety of your information gets sent to the OS developers and third-party developers with pre-installed system apps.

Hands holding a smartphone

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As of now, if you have or are interested in getting an Android device and have privacy concerns, a device using /e/OS seems to be your best option, based on what the researchers found.

LineageOS is probably the second-best choice, as while it does collect information, according to the study, it collects far less than the other four options and only sends it to one company (Google).

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