More and more smartphone users are getting the sneaky feeling that they’re being watched.
That sensation, it would seem, isn’t too far from the truth of the matter. As the technology has evolved and the computing power increased inside of the computer in everyone’s pocket, the ability for it to allow advertisers and business owners to pinpoint users with precision has also increased.
But with great information comes great responsibility, because there are always people out there who want to do more than hats or T-shirts with that data.
“Allow”ing Location Tracking in Favorite Apps
When users allow location tracking in a new or favorite app, they may not realize that they’re also agreeing to a number of other, potentially difficult to find and pre-read, stipulations. For example, they probably just gave permission for the app owner to sell their data to other app owners, mobile advertisers and data vendors.
While it sounds pretty terrible, though, it’s not quite as bad as it might seem on the surface. Yes, data is being swapped back and forth like so many corn futures, but the current practice for most information mongers is to provide only partial records that lack identifiable details. Some simply cut out any superfluous information, making it really hard to identify anyone from the information available, while others scramble delicate information using algorithms.
Although most companies only deal in segments of data, a few major players like Facebook and Alphabet’s Google are still keeping all that data together and in one place. They use it together, so that makes sense, but it also means that they must implement even higher data security standards.
Just Say “No” to Location Tracking
The solution to app tracking, then, is to just say “no” when they ask about location tracking.
Except that it’s not. Not always, anyway. There are ways to continue to track users without their permission, especially if the app in question deals out location-based info. GoundTruth’s WeatherBug, one of the most popular weather apps for smartphones, needs location information to provide forecasts for example, so it’s a bit of a Catch-22.
Although GroundTruth claims to not store information on individuals, the 70 million people it tracks monthly may want more reassurance than that. These types of apps could be prime hacking targets, or already be compromised. Despite yearly attempts to bring data privacy bills to the Senate or House floors, none have passed muster yet, leaving the public exposed without their even knowing it.