We’ve never been made more aware of online privacy concerns than in the last few years. With the heavy increase in cyber attacks, online security is being placed under more scrutiny. We’ve already been made aware of how certain apps and programs track our locations but are the privacy risks really so serious?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the privacy issues posed by mobile devices and how your phone can track your location. We’ll also look at what’s being done to address these concerns. We’ll also cover what you can do to protect your online privacy, such as using a rotating Brazil proxy or private browsers.
The topics we’ll cover in this article on online privacy include:
- What is location tracking?
- How can phones track your location?
- What are privacy regulations doing to mitigate the risks?
- What can you do to mitigate tracking?
Location tracking is the technological process that physically located and records the movement of people and objects. This is not new technology and has already been around for many years. There are many different ways that your location can be tracked through your mobile device. With the information collected, these individuals can see where you shop, go to the gym, buy medicine, restaurants you frequent, doctors you see, and even where you spend the night.
Most of the data is collected by businesses through apps installed on your device. They often sell this information to marketers that use it to curate personalized and targeted advertising. With over 50% of mobile users worldwide having access to the internet, it does make sense that marketers want access to this data to improve their marketing efforts. However, these trackers are usually hidden in apps you wouldn’t expect, and the tracking often occurs without the user’s knowledge.
One factor that concerns mobile tracking is how little users know about it. Very few people understand how exposed they are when using their mobile devices. There are many different ways that your location can be tracked through your mobile device, and these include:
- Signal tracking through mobile towers
- Signal tracking from cell site simulators
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth tracking
- Location information leaks through apps and web browsing
Although it is a slow process, many departments are taking privacy and location tracking more seriously and finding ways to address them. However, this is a major challenge as it goes beyond the scope of legal and compliance departments. These regulations also need to be flexible enough to adapt to the ever-changing evolution of technology.
One of the most influential statutes is the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). These regulations treat location data as personal information. This means that mobile device users have to give explicit permission for an app to track their location.
Another statute that’s taken a stand against location tracking is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which began enforcing its regulation in July 2020. With this policy, users can opt-out of having their personal information, including location data, sold to third parties. Currently, this only applies to residents in California.
While location tracking does pose a significant risk to mobile users, there are a few measures you can take to keep from being tracked.
A rotating proxy hides your IP address behind one of its own. As such, websites never see your real IP address, which can be used to track you. You can even take it one step further and use a location-specific proxy, like a Brazil proxy, to make it seem like you’re accessing the internet from the country, even if you’re somewhere else in the world. Another benefit of a Brazil proxy (or another location-specific one) is that they also help you bypass geo-restrictions.
There is a way to prevent both Android and iOS systems from tracking you that are already built into your device. However, this feature isn’t intuitive and takes some searching to find and enable. In your privacy settings, you’ll see a feature meant for daily routine, sometimes referred to as ‘Frequent Locations’ or similar.
If you frequently use navigation apps on your mobile device, you may not want to disable location settings completely. As such, limiting ad tracking is a good alternative. Both iOS and Android provide built-in features located in your device settings to minimize and limit ad tracking. This doesn’t block ads; you’ll still see them, but they’ll no longer be targeted based on your location. Google has a similar feature that you can access from your Google Account settings.
A private browser is useful as they don’t track you, and your history is forgotten after each session. These browsers also don’t track your location. A popular one to use is the Firefox Focus app. This mobile app blocks ads, analytics, and social trackers by default. If you’re looking for a truly anonymous browser, then Tor is another great option.
Many online accounts will also record your personal details such as location, preferences, personality, and other details they can sell or use for marketing. That’s why it’s important to check your privacy settings on your accounts once in a while to ensure they’re all set to private and to disable any track or personalized ads.
The easiest way for apps to track your location is by permitting them to. After installing the app, they usually ask for certain permissions, such as access to your files, location, or camera. In most cases, we eagerly give permission so that we can start using the app. However, this means that we’ve approved the tracking and recording of our personal data, including our location. Spend some time going through your app permissions and revoke any that aren’t needed for the app, or limit them to only having access when the app is in use.
Location tracking is a major invasion of privacy. These trackers are also becoming more sophisticated and are able to record where you shop, who you visit, where you pray, and even where you spend the night. Despite these risks, there are a few ways to protect your privacy and keep apps from tracking you, like using rotating proxies along with private browsers.