Do you feel comfortable knowing that an invisible force is coming after you, following every movement from home to work to the supermarket, kids activities and Sunday picnics all day every day? Even if you're not obsessed with privacy, the idea that unfamiliar businesses can track your whereabouts – specific places you go and for your stay – on your route through the city and home using your smartphone. unnerving. But that's what mobile phones and apps do nowadays unless you put an end to it.
If you are concerned about the data collected about your life, first find out which apps on your phone collect location data and learn how to use your smartphone's built-in controls to restrict third party sharing. For the most part, the process is fairly simple and fast, but hardly waterproof. The goal is to do as much as possible where possible. Here's how to control which apps can access your location on iOS and Android.
Why would you want to limit your location information?
While many smartphone users have long been concerned with privacy, concerns have skyrocketed with recent revelations from a New York Times survey report that the alarming extent to which every smartphone owner's whereabouts are continuously recorded and archived , brought into sharp relief.
Derived from the phones of approximately 12 million Americans from 2016 and 2017, the newspaper used a leaked dataset from one of the many anonymous companies collecting data from your favorite mobile apps, and surveyed over 50 billion recorded location pings. If that's not bad enough, there are no laws prohibiting the collection and sale of such unauthorized personal data. In a completely futile attempt to reassure a nervous audience, these companies assured observers that they would only share sensitive data with & # 39; vetted partners & # 39 ;.
Although this data is now being collected for apparently benign commercial purposes, it may be able to be used in an unexpected sense. and unethical ways: to assist controversial parties in legal proceedings, reveal personal secrets or confidential physical circumstances, or even endanger people for the law or work for political or personal activities. But if you know how to get tracked, you can also choose how and when to use your phone's location services.
How to Manage Your Location Information on Your Smartphone
If you need step-by-step instructions in a map app, it's a good idea to share locations with that app, and if you want to make sure which park you visited where you have seen that beautiful flower, you want to enable location services for your camera app or use the search functions of your smartphone in case you lose or lose sight of it. On the other hand, there are some localized apps – like news and weather – for which there is no earthly reason for an app to track you to your exact street. Here's how to operate it.
The order here is from iOS 13.4, the latest version of the iOS app. However, previous versions of the Apple operating system also offer similar ways to limit the excessive sharing of your location data from your iPhone.
On iOS devices, you get several options that allow you to share your precise location with an app: Always, Ask next time, while using the app or never. The latest iOS also gives you a choice called Allow Once, which does exactly what it says. If you're using iOS 13, you may also receive notifications about when an app uses your location in the background, how many times apps have accessed your location, a map of the location, and why the app uses that information.
Apple has made it more difficult for data miners to track your location via nearby Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but make sure to install all iPhone upgrades for the latest security features. Note the Location Services key that gives you more information about how location services are used in each app. Besides, it's always a good idea to put your phone in lost mode via iCloud because regardless of the circumstances location services can be re-enabled on the device if needed.
To disable location sharing, go to Settings> Privacy> Location Services to select when you want to share your location for each app – or not.
You can also prevent your phone from sharing your location in the background via Settings> General> ] Background A pp Refresh . From there, you can enable and disable location sharing for apps for individual apps.
Your online activity is often tracked with your mobile ad ID, a unique number created by your phone and shared with advertisers and app makers. It is another way to share your location data. Disable this feature in your privacy settings in Settings > Privacy > Advertising > Limit Ad Tracking . Introducing System Services so you can toggle switches on and off for a variety of features that reveal a laundry list of information about your local activities, such as Traffic, Popular near me, Significant Locations, Location-Based Apple Ads, Location-Based Suggestions, and Lake. You can check these settings and turn them on and off at will. You can use the Clear History control to completely erase important locations, both for your iPhone and for all other devices signed in to your iCloud account.
If you are using a device that works with Android 10, then I have a few more location options that you can customize, including when location services can be used per app. The example below refers to the Samsung Galaxy S20 running on the latest version of Android.
Go to Settings> Location> App permissions to access the location settings of your applications. There will be a list of apps divided into 3 sections: always allowed, only allowed during use, and, denied. Tap an application to change the location permission. If the setting is set to Always allow, the app will continuously track your location whether it is open or not. This is especially useful for apps like Uber and Google Maps that need to track your location while you are navigating. If the setting is set to Allow only while using the app, Location services are only active when the app is open. To completely disable location services, select Deny .
Google location history on your phone is managed by your Google account, which allows you to sign in on your mobile device and on the desktop if you also use a computer. It stores your location on any mobile device and is available when logged into your Google account and location history and location reporting is enabled. This service continuously stores your locations to provide you with personalized services. It is designed to let you manage your online experience across devices, so you can also sync your Chrome browser history, web and app activities, voice and audio recordings, YouTube history and searches and more. Choosing to enable all of these settings will likely result in a fairly strong profile of you, your habits and taste.
You can opt out of your mobile ad ID via Settings> Google> Ads> Opt out of ad personalization .
If you have a Google account, you can prevent Google from saving your location, but keep in mind that the company already has a lot of information about you. Don't be shocked to find out the exact date you visited your local metro station seven years ago. You can prevent Google from collecting more information by disabling location sharing in your account's location activity options.
Android 9.0 Pie
Customizing Android is slightly more complex than iOS, because every smartphone manufacturer takes certain freedoms with the operating system to adapt it to their device, and it latest Android 10 operating system is not uniformly available for every qualified Android device. The example below refers to the LG V40 ThinQ, which is currently running Android 9.0 Pie.
To disable location sharing, go to Settings> General> Screen lock & security> Location> App level permissions . You can choose whether to share your location for each app. Of the 25 apps, 10 have warned that functionality would be compromised if they disable location sharing. Several other Google-related location services, such as the Emergency Location Service (ELS), are available in some regions, allowing you to make emergency calls or send text messages and forward your location to the police or emergency services.
Managing app location tracking is a challenge facing all mobile phone users now and for the foreseeable future. There is no perfect way to prevent internet marketers from following you and selling your data. As app vendors and phone manufacturers develop increasingly sophisticated tools to help you control how much of your information comes out, the other side is perfecting new ways to bypass control of what they can learn about your life. The best thing to do is to maintain awareness, be familiar with all the controls you have available, and only have your location shared at a strict minimum necessary to function.