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Android 15 : Preventing Carriers from Accessing Phone Location

Android 15 introduces a new system that could prevent carriers from accessing your phone’s location.

Location data is one of the most sensitive pieces of information about an individual, and many apps collect it. Access to location data means companies know where you live, the people and businesses you interact with, and where you usually go.

The Android operating system has several privacy features that allow you to prevent apps from accessing your location data. However, Android’s ability to prevent location data from being shared with your carrier is very weak. This is likely to change with the release of Android 15.

Apps use the API provided by Android to access your location. Since this process is dependent on the operating system, you can easily prevent your location from being revealed.

At the same time, the cellular radio systems in smartphones are developed by companies other than the phone manufacturer, are equipped with proprietary firmware, and Android uses a special API called HAL to communicate with them.

HAL is undergoing a series of changes in Android 15 to prevent unnecessary disclosure of the user’s location.

There are three main ways to locate Android phones. The most common method is MO-LR. In this mode, the device itself communicates with the network to identify its location. The second method is MT-LR. This method is used when a third-party entity (e.g., emergency services providers) requests access to the device’s location through the network.

In addition to the two methods mentioned above, there is a third method called NI-LR. In this mode, the cellular network itself initiates the process of identifying the device’s location. NI-LR is typically used for critical situations, i.e., when it is impossible to get permission from the user or when an immediate action needs to be taken.

MT-LR and NI-LR are typically used for emergency scenarios, and user privacy settings may prevent MT-LR from working, but this is not true for NI-LR.

Devices equipped with radio signals that use the new version of HAL in Android 15 can prevent location sharing through NI-LR in non-critical situations.

Note that the new change in Android 15 requires support from the radio system provider, so many phones that are updated to Android 15 will likely not be compatible with the change from the start.

The changes in Android 15 are likely to prevent your location from being accessed via NI-LR, but carriers will still be able to estimate your approximate location by checking the cell towers you are connected to.

 

Here are some additional details about the changes in Android 15:

The new HAL API will allow apps to request location data with a specific accuracy level.

This will give users more control over how their location data is shared.

Android 15 will also introduce a new permission that will allow users to grant apps access to their location only when the app is in use. This will prevent apps from tracking your location in the background.

Google is also working on a new feature called “Location History,” which will allow users to see how their location data has been used by apps. This will help users make more informed decisions about how they share their location data.

Overall, the changes in Android 15 are a positive step towards protecting user privacy.

However, it is important to note that these changes will not completely prevent carriers from accessing your location data.

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