In today’s world, your location is a goldmine of opportunities. Virtually every business covets data on your location and movements, from the stores you visit to the meetings you attend. It’s scary but you get the drift: they track your location to advertise and sell their products and services to the right market.
According to the New York Times, at least 75 companies receive your precise location data from hundreds of apps where the user allows location services. Location tracking is enabled in these apps for various purposes, such as weather alerts and to know the location of potential dates in the area.
Knowing the Basics
How can you tell if an app is sharing your location?
Those policies, though, typically carry language that can be confusing, dense, or even misleading. You’d find, for instance, that they use your data for “market analysis” or “business purposes.”
While there isn’t a comprehensive list of apps that gather and share your location, you can check your device to see which apps maintain permission to get your location.
First, there are legitimate reasons for them to track your location, such as Google Maps and other navigation apps needing to know where you are to bring you to where you want to be. Second, the apps that are most popular data companies are those offering services around people’s whereabouts, from transit and travel to shopping deals and dating. These are a great place to start your review.
How to Prevent Location Tracking on Your Phone
Here are specific instructions to stop apps from tracking your location:
- iOS Phone – Go through your phone’s main privacy menu. Here are the steps:
- Open Settings. Select Privacy, which carries a blue icon with a white hand.
- Choose Location Services, located at the top and has a little arrow.
- Here you’ll find a list of apps along with their respective location setting. Tap on apps you want to adjust, and then select Never to block that app’s tracking.
- There’s an option called While Using the App to enable the app to get location only while in use. The option Always, on the other hand, lets the app get location data even when not in use.
The Times, however, was quick to discover that the brief descriptions provided by apps when it comes to location data are mostly incomplete and usually don’t mention that the data will be shared. It’s best to delete an app from your phone if it’s no longer in use.
- Android Phone – The exact instructions will slightly differ from one phone to another, but it’s fairly easy to turn off location tracking in an Android device. On a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, simply go to Settings > Connections > Location and toggle it off. If you have a Google Pixel 3, proceed to Settings > Security & location > Location and then toggle Use Location
Here are general steps to follow:
- Open Settings and tap Advanced.
- Choose App permissions.
- Select Location.
- Here you’ll find a list of apps with access to your location.
- Turn off the apps that you believe don’t need to know where you are.
Make sure to keep your Android device clean, free of unwanted ads, and maintaining optimal battery life through an intuitive free tool.
Reminder: You Need Location Tracking in Certain Cases
Note that some apps indeed need to know your location in order for them to function well. If you’re placing bets on DraftKings, for example, then the app has to confirm that you’re in a U.S. state that legally allows online sports betting.
Turning off location, too, means that you cannot track your phone if it goes missing. In addition, you cannot see or share your location in Google Maps, and some phone services may stop working properly.
If you’re keen on deleting your Location History as a Google user, visit this page and hit the Delete Location History button. You may also limit Google’s tracking via Web and App Activity, where Google provides instructions on how to control as well as delete your online searches and browsing activity.
Unfortunately, the location data industry remains unregulated and exhibits little transparency, making it hard for you to completely protect related personal data.
Those in the European Union, on the other hand, have a legal right to request a copy of data collected by a company on them, such as location data. They can also insist on the deletion of those data.
How’s your own experience trying to stop the tracking of your smartphone location? Share your thoughts below.