Ride-hailing apps and mapping services have a reason to know your location details. However, they do get the power to track your location, which can be a dangerous violation of your privacy and security. Many providers never disclose what they do with the location data.
There have been occasions when such sensitive information was sold to the highest bidder. Therefore, users should be cautious because location sharing can be dangerous, as they only have limited control over who has accessed the data. In this article, you should find information on how to limit location tracking.
How Does Location Tracking Work?
A range of devices and systems can track your location. Smartphones come with built-in features that allow the sharing and storing of the device’s location. A mobile’s location is tracked by the Global Positioning System (GPS), Bluetooth, or the wireless signals (cellular/Wi-Fi) by default.
A feature known as location services allows the sharing of geolocation data with apps in smartphones. Even if you were to disable location services on your phone, the GPS tracking remains active. Hence, even if the apps can’t access your geo-data, the OS in your phone can still retrieve it.
You may also agree to share your location after installing apps like Facebook or Twitter. Smart devices and apps like fitness monitors, smartwatches, and IoT devices can also track your location. You’ll be surprised to know that many smart household gadgets like light bulbs, thermostats, cookware, etc., can trace your geolocation as well using their unpredictable wireless capabilities.
Sharing your location details might indeed appear a necessity. It’s critical to the working of apps providing delivery, roadside assistance, or quick transport services. However, that still doesn’t remove the necessity of securing details of your exact geolocation or even the slightest information on your whereabouts.
As a user, you can be located and identified by GDPR, which has your location as one of the important components. Usually, services that need your geolocation can form a detailed profile of consumer behavior and daily patterns. Therefore, NSA stresses the point that sharing data on user location is a phenomenon with its pitfalls. There should be enough control and a high level of consumer awareness to prevent misuse and mitigate risks.
How Should You Limit Location Data Sharing?
Location data sharing can’t be disabled altogether. However, you can still limit the flow of data to third parties. Your iOS or Android settings allow you to disable location tracking. However, that may need a more intricate control mechanism.
Don’t hurry to share your location details with apps, especially when it’s not an absolute must for the app’s functioning. You should also ensure that an app isn’t able to access your geospatial details when it’s not working. You can manage this by controlling permissions given through the smartphone’s settings. You would do wise to cut off location data to apps that collect it unnecessarily.
You may also disable radio transmitters like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi when you aren’t using them. Take the time to disable geotagging on android or iOS devices.
A very effective way to hide your tracks online is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Atlas VPN, for instance, prevents your tracking by hiding your IP address. That way, your location details remain hidden. As the VPN encrypts the connection between the server and your device, IP tracking is usually no longer possible. Hence, your location remains obscure, as does your browsing habits.
Sharing Location Information with Third Parties
Marketers use details of your location data to promote various services in your region through targeted ads. As a consumer, the sheer volume of data shared between marketers and app owners will surprise you. Popular apps have given away data about users ranging from their browsing patterns to political views.
Putting a lid on sharing of location data is difficult. Both Google and Apple recently gave users greater ability to control sharing of location details. These changes proved very effective in stopping users from being tracked by apps when they run in the background.
The demand for data on user location has grown sharply after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic to enable contact tracing and prevent the spread of the virus. Therefore, serious intervention of the law and other long-term solutions are needed to minimize location data sharing.
Location sharing can be a serious threat to your privacy and security. Such sharing can occur in the form of apps that solicit your permission or even discreetly, as in the case of certain smart devices. Your location data is often sold to the highest bidder for targeted marketing. It’s therefore advisable that you limit access to your location by making necessary changes to your device settings. As a user, you should take necessary precautions to protect yourself and stay safe.