Posted by: deniseschenasi | April 24, 2011

Location-Based Services: Traceable?

I came across a Wall Street Journal article the other day and was a little taken aback. On my iPhone, I often get alerts asking if I’d like to turn the “location” on/off when running an app, going to fandango, using maps, etc. I usually think nothing of this and simply click accept. However, after reading this article, I am now a bit skeptical about having the location option turned on.

Android and Apple phones regularly transmit locations back to Google and Apple servers, according to data and documents analyzed by the Wall Street Journal. According to the article, recent research found that an Android phone collected location data every few seconds and sent it to Google several times an hour. Apple disclosed that it receives this information about two times a day. Both companies state how users have the option of turning off location-based services and that any information that is sent to Google is anonymous and untraceable. However, many people are unaware that location-based services are turned on by default until a user manually turns it off. Also, certain features such as maps, do not properly work when location is turned off. Even more alarming is that recent research has shown that it can be traced back to the phone through a unique ID that is tied to the phone. Apple has not responded to requests for comments on these recent findings.

From now on, I am going to think twice about whether I want location services turned on when using my phone. Who really knows where information about where I am/what I am doing is going? If Google is regularly receiving this information, who else has access to it? Apple is only adding more fuel to the fire by not responding to requests for comments on the matter. If anything, this makes me even more skeptical to use location services.

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