NY Times Study: Apps Are More Intrusive in 'Spying' on People

A representation of digital privacy

A representation of digital privacy

"Location information can reveal some of the most intimate details of a person's life - whether you've visited a psychiatrist, whether you went to an A.A. meeting, who you might date", said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of OR, who has proposed bills to limit the collection and sale of such data, which are largely unregulated in the United States.

After tapping that, you will be able to see all your apps and your corresponding locations setting.

The database reviewed by The Times - a sample of information gathered in 2017 and held by one company - reveals people's travels in startling detail, accurate to within a few yards and in some cases updated more than 14,000 times a day. "It's not right to have consumers kept in the dark about how their data is sold and shared and then leave them unable to do anything about it", he added. Using this data, the NYT was able to identify and contact a number of people whose information was anonymized. "Or, working in reverse, they could attach a name to an anonymous dot, by seeing where the device spent nights and using public records to figure out who lived there". There is a way to stop apps from tracking your smartphone location by adjusting the settings for individual apps on your smartphone.

Apps will often ask smartphone users to enable location-tracking services for better functionality, like those that provide Global Positioning System navigation, weather information, or food recommendations.

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These firms then sell, utilize or analyze the data to offer valuable information to other companies such as advertisers, retail outlets or even hedge funds seeking seeking insights into consumer behavior, a market that has reached approximately $21 billion this year.

But the good news is you do have a level of control. Some apps explain what they use your location for.

The reason for this isn't to make Tim Cook's company look bad - it's just a fact of life that ad rates are slightly higher for Apple devices than they are for Android, Windows or Linux, presumably as Apple owners are known to be free-spending with their cash. For Android, you can't toggle among options like on iOS devices - you can choose either to grant an app permission to access your location, or take away its access altogether.

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