HV Shred is all about helping our community protect private information. Last week, we covered the basic overview of app safety. More specifically this week, we cover location data.
Some apps use specific location data to share maps, coupons for nearby stores, or information about who we might know nearby. Some provide location data to ad networks, which may combine it with other information in their databases to target ads based on our interests and our location.
Once an app has permission to access location data, it can do so until we change the settings on our phones. If we don’t want to share our location with advertising networks, we can opt to turn off location services in the phone’s settings. Of course, if that is done, the apps won’t be able to share information based on our location unless we enter it ourselves.
In addition, the phone uses general data about its location so our phone carriers can efficiently route calls. Even when we turn off location services in the phone’s settings, it may not be possible to completely stop it from broadcasting location data.
The point is to be mindful and selective of the apps we choose.
A recent case both metaphorically and literally shed light on the locator capability and possible abuse of apps:
Dating back to early 2011, people have downloaded the Brightest Flashlight app to more than 50 million Android devices — making it one of the most popular free apps on the Android marketplace. According to the FTC, most of these users probably didn’t realize that anytime they launched the app, it collected and broadcasted their locations and device IDs to advertising networks and other third parties.
Goldenshores Technologies, the developer behind the Brightest Flashlight, has agreed to settle FTC charges that the company didn’t adequately disclose what information it collected and shared — not in the app’s user agreement or anywhere else.
For more on identity theft protection best practices, please visit www.hvshred.com