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As far as I know, all android apps are able to scan nearby / available Wifi networks. They can either get a list of nearby SSIDs, or at least they can get the SSID of the Wifi you are currently on. Correct? I remember the "get wifi scan results" unrevokable permission from some time ago (stoppable only if you were rooted and had xposed framework) (Also, exhibit B: Google, SkyHook, and Apple SSID databases).

This means that even if you are on a VPN, even if you turn off wifi scanning, even if you turn off location services and take out your sim card, even if you stop broadcasting your router's wifi SSID, your apps will be able to know what wifi SSID you are currently on.

This means that an attacker (read: the surveillance capitalism :) ), can figure out if/when I am home, and which other devices that are/were online have used the same SSID. E.g. all my family's (mandatory) banking apps will know where my family members congregate, and could change my insurance score, or other "insert dystopian scenario here".

Considering what I described, I don't think there is any wiggle room for you to ever hide your real location from a bad (state, corp, hacker) actor. Am I wrong? Can I hide my SSID from the apps that are on my phone?

I can't believe there aren't any hits on this subject on the internet.

(PS: obviously, the point of the question is not whether or not I am paranoid, the question is whether this is technically solvable)


[EDIT] To be clear, I haven't technically analyzed recent Android versions, but my question is about the most recent Android versions, as those are the versions everyone's obviously moving forward with. E.g. Android 10, Android 11.

[EDIT2] Would also be interested if iOS offers better privacy / protection in this regard. I created a sister question on "Ask Different", and spoiler alert: APPLE DOES NOT HAVE THIS PROBLEM. (as much as I hate apple's UX and lack of customizability and user control, at least rogue apps don't get that control either)

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  • Wifi scanning has been changed a lot in recent Android versions. Therefore please update your question and include the info about which Android version you are talking about. – Robert Jan 22 at 8:21
  • Hi, for iOS-related questions, we have a sister site Ask Different for Apple products. We, as mostly are Android users (regardless of using other OS), might not have sufficient knowledge to answer that question. – Andrew T. Jan 22 at 11:35
  • I've been living under a bit of a rock, but with a bit of research on my own, seems at least theoretically, starting with Android 8.1, apps should not get SSID info (and I guess also MAC addresses and bluetooth) if you don't grant them Location Permission. Apple does not bundle location permissions with ssid/network permissions. The trouble being that e.g. banking apps kinda "require" some of the things under the blanket "Location" permission. – Spectraljump Jan 23 at 18:41

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