Threat Watch

Location Tracking Apps Practices Get a Deeper Look

Multiple apps on the Google, Android, and Apple stores have been tested to see how extensive the information we are providing them is. A lot of the time many people do not even know what they are consenting to when downloading and opening these apps that ask them to share their location. Companies claim the information is anonymous and they use it to aid advertisement and retail outlets. A database of over a million phones was reviewed by the New York Times and the information they were able to uncover was quite interesting. An app on a 46-year-old’s smart phone was able to track her location every two seconds. Although her name was not directly added in the database, it was easy to make the correlation between the two. Apps such as WeatherBug, The Weather Channel, theScore, and GasBuddy amongst others were all tested over a four-month period. Transmissions from the apps were collected by searching for the longitude and latitude of where they did the testing, along with Wi-Fi IDs which are used to triangulate location.

ANALYST NOTES

Since there is not a definitive list of apps that track user location, the best thing to do is to check which apps that are currently on the device which are able to access user location. Go into privacy settings on the device and manually turn off location services. Unfortunately for Android users, they do not have the ability to restrict the access to location on the apps for when they are in use. At this time, there is no way to delete the location data that is already out there so be cautious about the apps that are given location privileges.