My App Knows Where I'm Going and Tells Everyone Too

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In summary: How does that work; that battery is charged but phone is OFF, yet the phone can still be located? Too good to...be true?The article states that most of the apps use the phone's GPS to track the user's movements and share that data with third-party companies. The article also states that the users have no control over this data and that the apps usually require the user to accept terms of service before use.
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  • #2
jedishrfu said:
A recent Guardian article details 24 iOS apps that track your location and related geolocation info and pass it on to third parties.
Just twenty-four? There is no privacy in the digital/IT age even staying off-line. You ARE a marketable commodity. Get used to it.
 
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  • #3
jedishrfu said:
A recent Guardian article details 24 iOS apps that track your location and related geolocation info and pass it on to third parties.

https://guardianapp.com/ios-app-location-report-sep2018.html
Bystander said:
Just twenty-four? There is no privacy in the digital/IT age even staying off-line. You ARE a marketable commodity. Get used to it.
Stop using the device or those "apps". Nobody needs to know anything about you unless you and they understand the need for you to tell them. Just a few years ago, almost nobody had any devices or "apps" telling anyone anything, so we still can do without these programs and those devices today.

I still use a 'dumb' cell phone. No "apps". The device is turned off most of the time. It is a convenience at times but it does not run my life.

Is a smartphone really spying on you even when it is turned off?
 
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  • #4
symbolipoint said:
I still use a 'dumb' cell phone. No "apps". The device is turned off most of the time.
Yeah, me, too (Nokia from about 2002).

The only advantage I can see of an app that reports your position is to show you where you are when you're out in the wilds. On a recent long hike in the Sierra Nevada range, a fellow hiker was using an iPhone with an app + map software to show just where we were. He carried a solar charger to keep the iPhone charged up. Of course, the phone was useless as a comm device, since there weren't any cell towers for many miles. In some places, when we were down in a valley, the device didn't work at all for a time -- it's likely that the surrounding peaks were obstructing the signal traffic back and forth between the satellite he was contacting.
 
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  • #5
Mark44 said:
Yeah, me, too (Nokia from about 2002).

The only advantage I can see of an app that reports your position is to show you where you are when you're out in the wilds. On a recent long hike in the Sierra Nevada range, a fellow hiker was using an iPhone with an app + map software to show just where we were. He carried a solar charger to keep the iPhone charged up. Of course, the phone was useless as a comm device, since there weren't any cell towers for many miles. In some places, when we were down in a valley, the device didn't work at all for a time -- it's likely that the surrounding peaks were obstructing the signal traffic back and forth between the satellite he was contacting.
I miss an important point, on occasion.
 
  • #6
jedishrfu said:
A recent Guardian article details 24 iOS apps that track your location and related geolocation info and pass it on to third parties.

https://guardianapp.com/ios-app-location-report-sep2018.html
Just the apps? I would have assumed it was a core function of the OS. It is for android...the collection at least.
 
  • #7
symbolipoint said:
Stop using the device or those "apps". Nobody needs to know anything about you unless you and they understand the need for you to tell them. Just a few years ago, almost nobody had any devices or "apps" telling anyone anything, so we still can do without these programs and those devices today.

I still use a 'dumb' cell phone. No "apps".
Sure, that's a viable solution...that very few people will adopt. But I do agree more with the opposite take: re-calibrate our assessment of the "problem" and declare it to not be a problem.
 
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  • #8
The GPS location has been a required part of cell phones in the US for many years. The Federal government decreed that it was needed for public safety. That is, if someone dials 911 (the national Emergency Response number) the responders need to know where you are. However, it is often surmised to be always accessible as long as the battery is charged, even if the phone is powered off.
 
  • #9
Tom.G said:
The GPS location has been a required part of cell phones in the US for many years. The Federal government decreed that it was needed for public safety. That is, if someone dials 911 (the national Emergency Response number) the responders need to know where you are. However, it is often surmised to be always accessible as long as the battery is charged, even if the phone is powered off.
How does that work; that battery is charged but phone is OFF, yet the phone can still be located? Too good to be true!
 
  • #10
symbolipoint said:
How does that work; that battery is charged but phone is OFF, yet the phone can still be located? Too good to be true!
Don't know. That's why I used surmised rather than a stronger phrasing I originally tried. Could be that people really put their phones in standby rather than off, a common occurence with tablet and laptop computers, etc. Would love to get a definitive, provable, answer though. (I don't have such a beast, too intrusive.)
 
  • #11
Its comparable to your instant-on TV as there's always some electronic components drawing power, especially if the on/off switch isn't a physical switch.
 
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  • #12
jedishrfu said:
Its comparable to your instant-on TV as there's always some electronic components drawing power, especially if the on/off switch isn't a physical switch.
Exactly! It uses what is known as a "watchdog timer" which brings the "nearly off" hibernating processor, sipping nano-amps, into life with a pulse that initiates a special boot-up that executes a few instructions to check the charge on a switch-on scheme, (did you press the switch-on button for several seconds?), then does other "housekeeping", and then shuts down again. These instructions are executed in small fractions of a second, followed by the several seconds "down" period. Only a physical "hard" off switch in series with the battery circuit could get past this scheme.

"Housekeeping" can include leaving a stored logged trail of your location, going on to fully switched on, and much other stuff.
There is, of course, no good reason why any entity should have the benefit of your GPS data, not even if you were using a navigation app, but keeping a record of where you were, and when, and mining much other meta-data is the raison-d'etre for most apps, the phone service provider, and even the phone manufacturer!

Every click on the web browser - unless of course, you trash it! There is the facial recognition happening using the forward-facing camera - only defeated by covering the aperture with a bit of adhesive tape. Are your photos your own?

To some extent, one may retain some of the benefits of "more than a simple phone" by trashing the software, which always comes with a set of unwanted, and un-delete-able features, and replacing it with something more trusted, a process known as "rooting".
At least for Android phones, that means open source verified software replacements. These have pretty much all the features one needs, but with the ability to force the surveillance off, and to use a better browser. One Android software known as "CynanogenMod" is now found as LineageOS for those with the nerve, and savvy to carry out the process. Apple and Microsoft driven products are not so replaceable, and so the relationship has to be one of trust.

The motivations are clear when one reads the fine prints in the EULAs. The deal is, unless the various intrusions are "given permission", the app will not run. Whatever the policy is now, the original Facebook agreement allowed the app to turn on the cameras and microphone by itself. I would bet long odds that all sorts phone data may be remotely accessed, whether or not you think it is "off".

For the p-p-p-parrranoid, keeping the phone in a tin box, or in a cover that includes an aluminum foil screen within will effectively make it go silent, but expect the stored trail of meta-data will be transmitted as soon as you next use it!

I have seen reported (BBC news) that the sales of "dumb" phones is now increasing. Maybe a reaction to the high price of smartphones, more are now opting for the "simple phone", but the raw number is dwarfed by the use of fully functional smartphones.
 
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  • #13
russ_watters said:
Just the apps? I would have assumed it was a core function of the OS. It is for android...the collection at least.
Quick clarification/amplification: unless you have somehow disabled it, Google does indeed track your location 24/7, whether you are using maps or not. Type google location history into chrome to see yours.
 
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  • #14
russ_watters said:
Type google location history into chrome to see yours.
:bugeye:

Dang, Google even auto-filled my search text after I typed "my google loc"

upload_2018-9-20_13-30-5.png


And suggestions on how to disable it...

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  • #15
Now that autumn is coming, those of you with a garden might want to have it dug up for free. You know how to get the FBI doing this job!
 
  • #16
berkeman said:
:bugeye:

Dang, Google even auto-filled my search text after I typed "my google loc"
Evidently you aren't logged into Chrome, otherwise a link would have appeared to access it through Chrome, thus confirming that it has left your cell phone. o_O
 
  • #17
russ_watters said:
Type google location history into chrome to see yours.

My results we're right on. Where, what business, how many times...
 

Q: What does the app do?

The app uses GPS technology to track your location and then shares that information with others through social media platforms.

Q: Is the app accurate?

Yes, the app uses advanced GPS technology to accurately track your location.

Q: Can I choose who sees my location?

Yes, the app allows you to customize your privacy settings and choose who can see your location.

Q: How does the app protect my privacy?

The app has built-in privacy settings that allow you to control who can see your location. Additionally, the app does not share your location with anyone unless you give it permission.

Q: Can I turn off the location tracking feature?

Yes, you can turn off the location tracking feature at any time in the app's settings.

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