How to stop your smartphone from secretly spying on your every movement


iOS 7 and Google Now in Android keep track of users’ locations to help the smartphone makers provide personalized information through their location-based services, like Siri. But the details they track go further than just knowing that you went to Best Buy on Saturday to check out other phones—their maps actually log in how long you were at each location.   

Take the above example, for instance, of an employee here at the Complex offices. Without “checking in” or doing anything whatsoever, iOS 7 logged in how long each day they were at the office, and the duration of the stay. Another employee saw his iPhone 5S log in how long he was home without ever giving the phone his address: the phone automatically labeled the location as “Home,” given the hours he was there. Scary? Yeah, a little. But the more imformation your phone has of you, the more you can hypothetically get out of its tailored services. If that information gets into the wrong hands, though, then you might find yourself in trouble with some explaining to do.

So if you want to check out your information and turn it off (or leave it on), head to your iPhone’s Settings.

  • Once there, go to Privacy.
  • Tap Location Services at the top.
  • Then scroll down to System Services at the bottom.
  • Once you do that, find Frequent Locations and select that. (Some people don’t have this option, we don’t know why yet.)

From there, you should see everything your phone has on you. Clear your history and turn off Frequent Locations to disable the tracking feature.

Google users can view what locations Google has logged over at this page. For Android devices, it depends on what model and version you have. But on Android 4.3 or lower, users should be able to click off the option in Google Settings in the app menu. Once in Google settings, hit location, then location reporting.

‘Brightest Flashlight’ app secretly collected location information & unique identifiers from users:

The creator of one of the most popular apps for Android mobile devices has agreed to settleFederal Trade Commission charges that the free app, which allows a device to be used as a flashlight, deceived consumers about how their geolocation information would be shared with advertising networks and other third parties.
Goldenshores Technologies, LLC, managed by Erik M. Geidl, is the company behind the “Brightest Flashlight Free” app, which has been downloaded tens of millions of times by users of the Android operating system. The FTC’s complaint alleges that the company’s privacy policy deceptively failed to disclose that the app transmitted users’ precise location and unique device identifier to third parties, including advertising networks. In addition, the complaint alleges that the company deceived consumers by presenting them with an option to not share their information, even though it was shared automatically rendering the option meaningless.
“When consumers are given a real, informed choice, they can decide for themselves whether the benefit of a service is worth the information they must share to use it,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But this flashlight app left them in the dark about how their information was going to be used.”
 In its complaint, the FTC alleges that Goldenshores’ privacy policy told consumers that any information collected by the Brightest Flashlight app would be used by the company, and listed some categories of information that it might collect. The policy, however, did not mention that the information would also be sent to third parties, such as advertising networks.
Consumers also were presented with a false choice when they downloaded the app, according to the complaint. Upon first opening the app, they were shown the company’s End User License Agreement, which included information on data collection. At the bottom of the license agreement, consumers could click to “Accept” or “Refuse” the terms of the agreement. Even before a consumer had a chance to accept those terms, though, the application was already collecting and sending information to third parties – including location and the unique device identifier.

The settlement with the FTC prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting how consumers’ information is collected and shared and how much control consumers have over the way their information is used. The settlement also requires the defendants to provide a just-in-time disclosure that fully informs consumers when, how, and why their geolocation information is being collected, used and shared, and requires defendants to obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before doing so.

The defendants also will be required to delete any personal information collected from consumers through the Brightest Flashlight app.

2 thoughts on “How to stop your smartphone from secretly spying on your every movement

  1. How to stop a dumb phone from spying on you? Turn it off. Put it in a little case that acts as a Faraday cage. Take it out only when you need to use it and check messages. Or just don’t get a dumb phone. They’re made by Chinese slaves and the markup is probably 50,000%.

    1. I prefer the latter. Just don’t buy one. Duh! I never bought one and never will. Unfortunately, the bastards will render the other phones obsolete in the future and will only make dumb phones so they can track you, just like they do with everything else.

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