The primary purpose of location tracking is to make our lives easier, such as help us navigate with Google Maps. We also like having the ability to review restaurants, gas stations, stores, or other institutions near us. However, this useful technology can also pose many safety and security risks. Letting Google and various apps track where you are at any given moment is one way of giving away your data. Thus, let’s discuss why location tracking might not be everything it is cracked up to be.
Benefits of Location Tracking
One of the greatest benefits of location tracking is enabling EMTs to locate patients during an emergency. If you ever call an ambulance, they can find you quickly with GPS. In critical situations, such location tracking helps save lives. Thus, its necessity and usefulness are difficult to deny.
Another excellent benefit is finding a lost or stolen device. With enabled location tracking, you can find your missing device’s current location as long as it’s active (turned on). Therefore, anyone who has ever lost their phone will know just how brilliant this benefit is.
Geo-tracking can also help you navigate your way while traveling, find nearby food services and other establishments, and much more. It can be quite convenient and time saving. Imagine yourself visiting a foreign country, with no knowledge where to find anything. In most cases, Google Maps or another app will be your saving grace. It will allow you to find necessary establishments quickly. Furthermore, it is extremely useful if you get lost.
Its biggest advantage for families is keeping track of kids. You can see where they are in real-time, which can be immensely helpful if they ever get lost. Every parent would be thankful for this benefit in times of emergency.
Thus, on the surface, location tracking is a brilliant feature to almost anyone, be it a parent, traveler, or just a regular user. However, there are times when researchers notice red flags when it comes to supplying your location to a third party.
Potential Dangers of Location Tracking
From data generated by location tracking, companies or other entities can extract various insights. These include:
- Where you live and work
- Which routes you take to work
- Where you shop or spend free time
- When and where you travel
A lot can be done with such details about your personal life and daily schedule. Most companies use geo-tracking to send targeted ads to consumers. In other words, location tracking might help prioritize services that are nearby or in the same country. For instance, if you regularly use a ride-hailing service, it will automatically show certain patterns.
Do you think that the benefits of location tracking outweigh the risks? Most people would agree. But if you consider how dangerous the risks can be, you might start thinking differently. Luckily, you can disable GPS tracking to hide your whereabouts and protect your privacy. Here’s how.
How to Disable Location Tracking on Different Browsers and Devices
Disabling location tracking is quite straightforward. Here are the steps for iOS, Android, and the most popular browsers. You can also reverse them anytime you like.
Go to Settings > Privacy and Security > Site Settings > Location. Choose between blocking sites from accessing your location or allowing them to ask before accessing.
Type “about:config” in the browser’s URL bar, hit Enter, and click on the “I accept the risk!” button. Type “geo.enabled” in the search bar and change its value from “true” to “false.”
Go to Settings > Privacy > Location. Toggle off the switch under “Allow apps to access your location.” You can also scroll down to find the feature for clearing your location history.
On your iOS, go to Settings > Safari > Settings for Websites and tap Location. You can choose between Ask, Deny, Allow. On your macOS, go to Safari > Preferences > Websites and find Location. Then, select from the three available options.
Disabling location tracking on Opera is the same as on Chrome. Access the settings by typing “about:config” in the URL bar.
To turn off all tracking on your iOS device, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. You can also restrict access to your location for every app separately.
Turning off location-sharing services on Android devices is a bit more complicated. You’d think that going to Settings > Location and toggling off the switch would do it, but there is more.
You need to block access to geo-tracking for every app you use. You also need to turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth scanning in the Advanced settings.
Then, you have four more location services that you can turn off, including:
- Emergency Location Service
- Google Location Accuracy
- Google Location History
- Google Location Sharing
Don’t forget that you can delete all your web, app, and location history by going to Google Activity Page on any browser or device. We strongly encourage you to do so.
Use a VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is also a line of defense you can try against location tracking. It lets you change your IP address which pinpoints your location. Many services might rely on IP-based tracking. Thus, you can obviate it by using a VPN. It is a seamless solution that will offer other benefits as well. For instance, you might get more shows on various online streaming platforms. After all, many countries get to enjoy less shows just because their IP address indicates a specific location.
It is up to you to decide whether location tracking is your cup of tea. It is recommended that you limit the number of apps that get to know your whereabouts. Thus, be extremely picky about which services can have this privilege. After all, it is possible that, in certain situations, location tracking could facilitate stalking or other crimes. Of course, such incidents are worst-case scenarios, but you need to be aware of them. Only then can you be cautious enough to prevent them.