Many Apps are selling Your smartphone location data: how to stop


Who’s accessing your personal information, and for what purpose?

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Where do your smartphone’s GPS coordinates go when you don’t use it?

New evidence suggests that the CDC purchased location data from tens of millions of phones in order to monitor adherence to Covid-19 limitations and other possible applications. As a result, some people are worried about who could be able to access the data generated by our cellphones, and what they might do with it.


Reports from Vice’s Motherboard site claim that the CDC purchased location data through SafeGraph, a data broker that was banned from Google’s Play Store last year for its questionable actions. According to Vice, the CDC planned to utilise its bought data for purposes unrelated to the Covid pandemic, even though the data was designed to monitor curfew compliance and the arrival and departure of students at K-12 schools..

Specifically, Vice got records from the CDC through a Freedom of Information Act request that indicated 21 possible applications. However, there are a few “Research topics of interest” in the field of chronic illness prevention, physical activity, and mobility during natural catastrophes that don’t seem to be Covid-related. According to a CDC document cited by Vice, “the mobility data generated under this contract will be accessible for CDC agency-wide use and will support various CDC initiatives.”.

The anti-vaccination movement has seized on any bit of Covid vaccine controversy, real or imagined, to stoke its claims, and the political right has leveraged vaccine mandates to fire up its base about government overreach in advance of this fall’s election — reports of the CDC paying for tracking data are likely to be controversial given that government policies during the Covid pandemic have generated notable opposition. To begin with, location data may be considered anonymous, but when combined with other publicly accessible information, it may be utilised to identify particular individuals.


A second Vice investigation into SafeGraph’s data gathering practises claims that the business is selling data relating to abortion clinic visits. In this data, you’ll learn where patients came from, how long they remained, and what they did when they left the clinic.

Abortion protective of Roe v. Wade might be overturned, according to rumours that the United States Supreme Court is poised to rule on it soon, according to a new study on SafeGraph packaging data. As a result of Roe’s demise, individual states might restrict the medical practise outright, forcing patients to go out of state for treatment.

SafeGraph said that it will no longer sell location data connected to family planning facilities once the report was published.


What’s clear from these two findings is that our cell phones are a ubiquitous part of our daily lives. A lot of information is being gathered about our locations without our knowledge, and they’re doing it without our permission a lot of the time.

Apple and Google, the two most popular smartphone software systems, have recently made measures to offer you greater control over controlling your location and to restrict the data that applications may share and eventually sell to other people. It’s time-consuming to keep track of all those choices, however, since such limits only go so far A mapping tool that can’t access your position will be of little use in guiding you around or helping you locate local businesses.

There’s always a good idea to check your location permissions to see what applications have access to your location. The following list provides a high-level summary of your capabilities.


How to modify the iPhone’s location settings

If your iPhone was purchased within the previous six years, it’s likely that you’ve already updated to iOS 15, in which case you should go to the Settings app, press on Privacy, and then tap on Location Services.

To view what rights each app has for your location, you may scroll down the list of applications. If you don’t want to allow the app to access your data, just tap on the app to change the permissions. It’s also possible to define that an app asks you for location permission the next time you open it.

Other useful information may be found in the Location Services section of the Settings menu. You can see which applications have accessed your location data by looking at the arrows on the various apps. The purple arrow indicates that the data has been recently accessed, while the grey arrow indicates that it has been within the previous 24 hours.


The App Privacy Report may be accessed through a link at the bottom of the Privacy page in Settings. As well as your location, the App Privacy Report provides information on who’s using your camera and microphone, as well as other areas of your device. You may then use that information to control or even cancel access.

How to alter the Android device’s location permissions

Because different Android phones run on various versions of Google’s operating system, things become a bit more difficult with Android. For Android 12, go to the Settings app and hit Location. Google offers guidelines for modifying location settings for various versions of Android.

You can see which applications have access to your location by clicking App Location Permissions. You may change permissions by tapping an individual app. Like iOS, Android allows you to configure the app to run at all times, or just while you’re actively using it. When the app is launched, you may choose to have it ask for your permission every time you do so.


How to alter your Google account’s location settings

If you use Google Maps, you’ll also want to verify your Google account permissions in addition to your device. When you use a mobile device connected into your Google Account and have Location History and Location Reporting enabled on, Google remembers your location information everywhere you go. Google makes use of this information to give users with customised maps and suggestions, as well as real-time traffic updates. (Also, you’ll see more adverts tailored to your interests.) It’s possible that you don’t want to leave that information hanging around for whatever reason.

You have the option to turn off location monitoring for your whole Google account or for specific devices linked to your Google account via your Google account settings. It’s also possible to erase certain days from your account’s location history, which may either be done using an auto-delete tool or manually. Both the Google Maps app and Google’s website include instructions on how to remove your location history.

The history of a place is in the limelight.

It’s important to have a clean location history, but it won’t stop every app from tracking you. If you don’t want your phone to be able to monitor your position, you may turn off location tracking completely.)


The two Vice investigations into who is accessing your data and how it is being used are expected to draw greater attention to the privacy settings on your smartphone and increase pressure on Apple, Google, and other phone manufacturers to make data management options even more apparent.

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