Crores of people all over the world are sharing their location daily through smartphone apps. This data is shared with advertisers and other companies.
- Allow location data while using the app, check which apps are collecting what data
- Companies like Apple and Google use this information for mapping and monitoring traffic.
Jennifer Valentini-DeVries. How is coronavirus affecting people's behavior? To know this, researchers and journalists rely on the location information from the smartphone. Such data gives information about the movement of millions of people, but it also has an impact on privacy. Millions of people around the world use smartphone apps and allow location tracking.
What is the risk of such data?
- This data does not contain information related to names, phone numbers and other identities, but information about unknown location can also make many disclosures. The Times investigated data operating without authority. This kind of data can reveal your frequent visits to your doctor or personal information about going out with someone.
- The truth is that companies are collecting and selling location information despite all the risks. Hackers and people with access to raw location data can follow without the consent of any person. Different companies are adopting several methods to handle such location data. These include deleting large chunks of data for personal reasons or selling raw data without any security. A person's location data is used for marketing and law.
What is the benefit of this data?
- The data from the smartphone is used for many things. Especially for publicity. For example, companies can show advertising of sneakers to people who spend more time in the gym. Companies like Apple and Google use this information for mapping and monitoring traffic.
- Makers that make data-selling apps say that they are able to provide services to users without taking money. Location information during the coronavirus epidemic revealed social distancing and travel.
How do I know if my data is being taken?
- It is difficult for people to know how their data is being collected. Android based devices and iPhones ask permission from the user before collecting data. However, things like encouragement at times are confusing.
- Five apps that provide information for the data set to Cubic (a company that analyzes data for marketers and advertisers) were tested. In the disclosure of these apps, it was told that the data would be shared for advertising and marketing. Apart from this, users were also given access to sharing information, but some apps made it easier to stop data collection than others.
- Last year, the New York Times Opinion Journalist tested an app and found that when asked for location permission, initially it was not mentioned anywhere how the information would be used. While later the app changed this information. Apart from this, even after the disclosure, users are not clear how often a user's information is collected and what it shows. Users in Europe and California can ask for their data. Apart from this, policies vary according to the companies.
- You can ask for your data from Cubic and also ask for delete. Cubic connects your data to the alleged advertising ID of the phone. Marketers use this ID. To save the data of someone else's ID, the company asks you to download the app and get the number verified. You can also delete the app later and it is available on both Android and iOS platforms.
What if I do not want to provide information?
- If you want Cubic not to collect your data, then the easiest solution is to de-activate the advertising ID of the phone. If you disable it, Cubic will not be able to collect data from your device. In addition, there are several ways to turn off location information in Cubic.
- However, turning off the location option from the cubic database does not prevent data collection. Other companies can collect information about your location. Some companies offer options like Cubic, but not all.
- If you want to avoid giving location information, then the best way to do this is to identify the apps which are collecting more than necessary. Stop as many apps from accessing the data as possible and allow them only when you are using the app.