Skip to main content

Defeating location services without killing it


Location data is a valuable commodity, both to consumers and to businesses as they connect with each other. Location services have become an integral part of the smartphone experience, but the other edge of the sword is how location services can track users. The major carriers long ago realized the value of this data and have been selling it, even as calls for a federal investigation mount. We aren't even touching on the subject of what the government could do with this data either.

The value provided by location services to consumers can not be overlooked though. A large part of the power of having a computer in your pocket comes from that computer knowing where you are and where you go, this helps in navigation you and in making meaningful suggestions for you. Turning off location services entirely definitely cripples the user experience.

First, in iOS, location services uses what they call Significant Locations, which allows for useful information in Maps, Photos and Calendar apps. From Settings, go to System Preferences, Privacy, Location Services then finally Significant Locations. You'll be prompted to authenticate, then you will see all the all the locations you've been to, grouped by city. You can clear out specific locations within a city but you can not clear only one city. To do that you must Clear History, which is at the bottom of the list of cities, and will clear all cities. This isn't ideal but it's the state of iOS at the moment.

If you have Share My Location turned on in your Location Services settings, you can select which device from which location will be shared. Select Share My Location and you will see the option to share it from other devices that are using your Apple ID. For this, I have my old iPhone at home anchored to a wall outlet, and I use that device for this purpose. This gives you some control over what location you share, and you could place the alternate device at any location that is convenient for you.

Depending on how far you want to go, you can thwart Location Services by hiding in the services that it uses. Location services runs the gamut here, it uses GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi and cellular tower data. For GPS, there are GPS faking apps on the app store. To turn off cellular data, go to Settings then Cellular and un-select Cellular Data. Bluetooth can easily be disabled from the Settings. WiFi is a special case. You can always turn it off in the settings but it could still use crowd-sourced data from hotspots, so the best way would be to use a VPN and literally route your WiFi traffic to another location. Any combination of these can be used, or all of them if you are hell bent on not being tracked. In such a scenario, I would recommend turning off Bluetooth and cellular data, using one of the GPS faking apps, and using WiFi while being connected to a VPN for which you own and control.

--Jay E. blogging for digitalinfinity.org

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Growing Disruption Of Artificial Intelligence

Photo by Frank Wang
Artificial intelligence may be as disruptive as the computers used to create it once were, and it could be even bigger. Given the disruption that social media has proven to be, one has to wonder if we are fully prepared for the life altering consequences we are building for ourselves.

IBM has been a key player in the artificial intelligence arena for over two decades. Deep Blue was their first tour de force in 1997, when its team of developers received $100,000 for defeating chess champion Gary Kasparov in a game of chess. That watershed moment has its roots all the way back in 1981 when researchers at Bell Labs developed a machine that achieved Master status in chess, for which they were awarded $5000. In 1988, researchers at Carnegie Melon University were awarded $10,000 for creating a machine that achieved international master status at chess. Deep Blue, however, was the first machine to beat the world chess champion.

Google has entered the fray as well, with th…

The Evolution Of Tech Culture

Photo by Skitterphoto
The culture associated with technology has a checkered past but maybe not in the way you think. Before it became socially acceptable to tote your pocket supercomputer around, why was technology culture anti-social? Are we more social now, or less?

Ars Technica recently interviewed Clive Thompson for his upcoming book Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World.Thompson specifically focuses on the origins of the culture of programmers, and there are some interesting divergences from the culture as it is today. Traditionally, software programmers are stereotyped but Thompson debunks these myths.

Rather than being purely anti-social, programmers are merely intensely focused problem solvers. Programmers will spend many hours trying to fix something, which can be frustrating, but they are a rare breed equipped to handle frustration. Programmers solve hard problems, despite frustration, because this is what they enjoy doing. There is a cost associate…

On Homelessness

Photo by Quaz Amir
It started yesterday, after work as I left my building, I saw them walking. A couple, hauling their belongings in a few neatly stacked boxes that looked like tackle boxes tied to a small luggage cart. The man had crossed the street, along with his dog who stayed faithfully by his side. An older woman was stuck at the intersection waiting for cars to stop. Before long, the cars did stop, she joined her partner, and I didn't spend much more time thinking about them that day.

At my job today, I had a great morning. A coworker gave me a great idea for a quick but useful project, which I was able to finish before noon. I feel I am at my best when I am able to be productive. It gives me a sense of purpose for lack of a better word. Feeling good about myself, I set out to buy myself a hamburger for lunch and skip the more healthy option that I brought from home.

I drove the short distance to the hamburger joint, the epitome of laziness. As I drove up, I saw the same co…