A few months ago, the world learned that their every step was being recorded! Well, maybe that’s an overstatement, but let’s get down to the details. Since 2007, over 100 million people have purchased iPhones. In April of 2011, these people learned that Apple was recording their location and storing this information on their phones––forever! This data contains the phone’s latitude and longitude coordinates with a related time stamp. When this story was scooped up by the mainstream media, it was a fire storm for about a week, and then it died. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Personally, I love the fact that the iPhone records my location; it helps jog my memory if someone asks me, “Where did you go today?” With over 20,000 data points stored in my phone, I have a pretty accurate record of my whereabouts. I can even load up a map of all the data points and then run through them in chronological order. I fear that I am in the minority, though; most everyone that I have talked to about this is up in arms. So, this got me thinking, how else are people sharing their location without knowing it?
Photo Sharing: Do you like to take photos on your smartphone and email them to your friends? Did you know that inside the photo’s metadata is the time when and location where you took that picture? Sometimes this metadata carries through when you post pictures to social media outlets, too.
Check-ins: Love to check in at local hot spots on Foursquare, Facebook, or any other social media application with check-in capabilities? Surely you know that this shares your current location with all of your connections!
What this all boils down to is this: If you don’t want people to know where you are, then you have to be very careful about what you do on your smartphone. If you do want everyone to know where you are, then continue on with business as usual! And don’t think that this is just on the iPhone. This is integrated across all smartphones these days––I just chose the largest population for this article. Yes, it may be concerning to many that Apple (or others) can get access to your whereabouts, but what can they really do with this data? The answer is: not so much. They basically want this data to feed back to the service provider for use in determining which areas need more signal strength. This is not real-time tracking and is most often very inaccurate! So, unless you are the President of the United States or someone who is in the witness protection program, this probably doesn’t affect you negatively. But you would be in the majority if you said you didn’t like this!
If given the option, would you switch off all location services on your smartphone?
Author: John Mehl