The owner of your favorite restaurant may be tracking your every move—via your smartphone. Not because he’s a snoop, but because he believes knowing when and where you go for entertainment will benefit his business.
The sensors track signals emitted from Wi-Fi-enabled mobiles. The mobile-user’s movements in daily life create a profile of that user. Gee, how invasive is that?
The business owners with these sensors justify the invasion by using the profile knowledge to promote their business. But are you cool with that?
Another sensor technology analyzes actual foot traffic patterns onsite. Large retailers you visit sometimes have these sensors, following your every move in the store. They might know if you are pregnant, have the flu or have a hot date that night. They will send you offers based on your needs. Some say this is kinda creepy.
It’s a booming business: tracking peoples’ daily movement patterns via their smartphone. But you can relax somewhat, because this technology does not reveal any names, just movement patterns. Still, it’s something you should be aware of.
But don’t relax too much, because some of these same services will run free Wi-Fi services on site or at local coffee shops and restaurants that people can log into with Facebook—doing so will reveal their name, age and social media profile.
Phone tracking is a godsend to business owners, however, because they can create promotions based on profiles: E.g., upon learning that most clientele are over age 50, a health club might decide to play mostly ‘70s music.
Nevertheless, as phone tracking booms, privacy concerns also boom. Do you want someone to track all your doctor visits, then sell this data to marketers based on what disease the tracking profile thinks you have? This seems to be where it’s all headed.
Companies in the U.S. still are not required to get your permission to collect and share your data for the most part. But you just never know what may come next.
Some helpful Information
- Do you know what your cellphone carrier knows—about you? Because your phone sends signals to cell towers, your carrier knows your location. Phone companies sell this information to retailers and other entities.
- The recent Apple iOS7 update launched a little known feature that tracks your every move. You might want to turn it off. Go to Settings/Privacy/Location Services then scroll all the way down to the bottom to “System Services” and scroll all the way down to “Freqent Locations” and check it out. It knows your History! Turn that puppy off!
- One option is to turn the Wi-Fi off on your phone. It doesn’t have to be on when you’re driving from the gym to the donut shop to the computer store.
- A better option is to download and install Hotspot Shield VPN that encrypts your wireless internet and surfing activities.
- An iPhone has more settings in “Settings/Privacy/Location Services” that control which apps can monitor your location. Determine which ones you want on. Think “minimize my footprint”
- Android users should turn off location tracking.
- Like to take photos with your mobile? Guess what: iPhone saves the location where you took the shots, which is no secret once you post the photos on FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This isn’t such a good idea. Shutting down location based apps will help here too.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.