Do you have location data turned on for your phone? That can help with many useful tasks. You can navigate with map apps, check-in to restaurants on social media and more.
These are convenient functions but your data can track your movements even if you turn it on for certain apps.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, location data comes in 2 forms: cell tower and GPS data.
Many apps including games, weather, and shopping sell anonymous location data to marketing firms and other 3 parties. This is why it’s important to read the terms and conditions when downloading new apps. If they admit they’ll sell your data, skip it.
What’s the harm if your information is anonymous? The data may be anonymous but think what your location data shares.
You spend your nights at home. A quick search of public records discloses your identity. You go to work, church and your doctor’s office. Now whoever has your location knows your routine. That’s more information than I would care to give a stranger. How about you?.
Databases contain these records for millions of cell phones. Companies, organizations and the government can buy access.
How can you turn off location tracking? On Android phones open Settings > Location > App permission. Review the apps listed and determine which ones you want to have access to your location. Under “Advanced” in the “Location” menu, you will see more detailed settings. Emergency Location Service lets emergency services see your location if you call or text them. I would keep this turned on.
On an iPhone open Settings > Privacy > Location Services. From there you can turn off Location Services in general. You can also set privacy settings for individual apps.
Next week: Who’s using your location data?