Mobility: Find me (or not!)

With personal data exploitation popping up again and again in the news, you might be wondering whether it’s a good idea to leave the location services on your smart phone turned on. Well, like the whole bargain we make for the convenience of carrying smart devices around, there’s a price for the privilege.

On the pro side, you can find your way around town from wherever you are. You can also be found by your car share service, and emergency locator systems (though there’s still some work to be done there). Businesses can track drivers, customers can know deliveries to the moment, and you can share your adventures on social with accurate location info. You can track your kids, your friends, and family members. Some of those folks might disagree that this is a “pro.” On the negative side, the data about your location is actually stored and shared with your mobile network provider. It can be exploited by them in legal ways to inform marketing and sales campaigns. It can be sold to others or stolen to know more about you and your activities than you’d care to share. By itself the data might not yield actionable espionage, but combined with other information might be dangerous.

So, should you or shouldn’t you? If you’re content to live without the advantages of GPS (global positioning system), then turn it off. Otherwise, if you’re like me and living without the convenience of maps and apps that show those trying to find you where you are, then turn it on when you need it and off when you don’t.

Turning off Location Services on Android

1. Tap the Apps button

2. Search for “Location”

3. Slide the button at the top of the screen to off

Turning off Location Services on iPhone

1. Go to Settings, Privacy, Location Services

2. Select Location Services

3. Slide the on/off slider to off

You may also limit what apps can use your location services. This will save battery and narrow the exposure.