By Vicki Little
We’ve all heard about smartphone apps that can help find a missing iPhone, track where your teenager is — or even your spouse. But what if I told you that Google and your smartphone have been creating their own records of your every move? Where you go, what time you arrive, and places you frequently visit — all being collected and stored. Then the data can be laid out on a map for anyone to read. Your details and travel log can be accessed from the Internet in real-time by anyone who has your account information. Scary, right?
All smart phones have a location tracker that is useful for GPS, running apps, finding a nearby restaurant, and other handy apps that need to know your location. How this information is stored, though, varies by company. According to Today.com, Apple uses the information to provide personalized services and claims that “it’s kept solely on your device and won’t be sent to Apple without your consent.” Google told NBC News that users have the ability to “enable or disable location capabilities both on their Android device and Google account. If it is enabled, the information can be viewed on the Internet. As far as we have found from their 2012 update, Windows uses this for personalized services, but does not save it on the phone — as long as you have updated software.
Most likely, you agreed to having your location tracked without even thinking about it when you downloaded apps. It warns you that in order to run, the app needs to access your location. In small print, you agreed to have the company use your location for personalized services as well. Not a huge deal, especially if you really want to use that app or even your GPS — until you realize that anyone can find out where you are at any given moment. If you were to lose your phone, whoever found it would be able to find out exactly where you live, and where you tend to spend most of your time. Pretty scary.
The good news is that you can turn your location tracker off. iPhone allows you to turn off just the frequent location map without impacting the apps, Android has different levels of location accuracy (or you can turn it off completely). Windows turns off location services all together, so if you turn it on for an app, you will need to turn it off again.
Choose your phone type below for instructions on how to turn off location tracking.
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, reading, camping, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
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