• Your cellular network can determine your device’s location using a network-initiated location request.
  • Your device’s privacy settings do not impact whether this request is honored.
  • However, Android 15’s new location privacy feature may block these requests for non-emergency scenarios.

Your location is one of the most sensitive pieces of information about you that an app can collect. It could show where you live, what people or businesses you visit, and potentially what you’re currently doing. That’s why Android offers robust privacy settings to manage which apps can access your location. Still, the OS can do little to prevent your carrier (cellular network) from getting your location. In Android 15, though, the OS might get a way to prevent your location data from being sent to your carrier.

The Android OS can easily restrict or grant location access to Android apps because those apps have to use APIs provided by the OS to get the location. However, the firmware running on the device’s cellular radio is a different story. Cellular radios in mobile phones are often made by someone other than the phone’s OEM, and they often run proprietary firmware that the Android OS can only interact with using well-defined hardware abstraction layer (HAL) APIs that the radio vendor added support for. Starting in Android 15, radio vendors will be able to add support for Android’s new location privacy HAL, which can tell the radio not to share location data for any non-emergency requests.