Your Phone Might Be Using Your Location Against You

Basically no one knows who has your information.

Your Phone Might Be Using Your Location Against You

by Bethan McGrath |
Published on

How do you feel when your phone dies and you’re not near a charger? How about when a small child asks to play a game on it? What about those annoying people who physically take your phone out of your hand when you’re showing them something on the screen like they’ve been raised in an actual barn? If the answer to any of the above was the experience of mild to moderate panic, then you my friend are in love with your phone.

Really, most of us are. We depend and care for them like never before, with an app to do everything from putting your makeup on to tracking your cervical mucus quality(yes really), they're possibly more valuabe to us than our best friend/partner.

The issue is that we think our phones are always working for us. Actually, the masses of information we pour into it don’t just stay locked in the few millimetres under the screens we haven’t cleaned in weeks.

This is arguably the most dangerous when it comes to our location. If you’re an actual normal person who can’t be arsed to turn your location services off and on all the time, then companies are probably selling your location information. And no one really even knows to who, not even the app developers that collect it. When we grant apps access to our location, we’re not just giving our whereabouts to the app people, but also to their partners, and even their partners.

Even if you don’t see much point in hiding your regular midnight McDonalds trips, the fact that we don’t know who has information about our whereabouts really should worry us more. The most recent example of how our technology can be used against us is Kim Kardashian’s burglary. Her kidnappers may very well have used her phone’s information to determine her location, or at the very least found her whereabouts from her social media posts.

The solution is simple then, just turn off your location services whenever you don’t need to use them. Sure it’s a faff, but it’ll keep your data in your hands only, right?

Wrong. Researchers from the University of Illinois have said that hackers can track you even when your location services are off. Somehow it’s possible to use the mechanism responsible for the automatic adjustment of landscape to portrait screen to track location. Although, confusingly, those same researchers say they don’t know of anyone who could do this yet. So it is possible to be tracked even with location services turned off, but we’re safe for now. Kind of. Maybe. Hopefully.

How to turn your location off on your phone:

Step 1

Go to Settings – Privacy – Location Services and turn Location Services off if you want to be as safe as possible. If you still want to use location services sometimes, read on to Step 2.

Step 2

Leave Location Services turned on, but turn off its access on as many apps as you can bear. I never let apps always access my location, at the most have the setting ‘While Using the App’.

Step 3

Go to the very bottom of the page, and click on System Services. Turn off all of the things you never really use, like a compass, and definitely turn off location-based adverts. I only keep on Motion Calibration & Distance for step apps, and Find My iPhone for obvious idiot-related reasons.

If anyone wants me, I’ll be on my new Nokia.

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Follow Bethan on Twitter @BethanMcGrath

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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