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Privacy Tip #293 – Location, Location, Location-Based Services

This is not the first post discussing location-based services on mobile phones. And it won’t be the last. After reading my colleague’s post on the priest who resigned from his high-profile position after his location was tied to Grindr, I thought it would be useful to remind readers to think about that privacy setting a bit more.

In sum, when you download an app, the Privacy Policy of that app will tell you what type of data that app is collecting from your phone. When you click “I agree” after downloading the app, you have just agreed to everything the app developer said it would collect in the Privacy Policy. This could include access to your microphone, camera, movement, contacts, photos, and location. The app could literally be tracking everything you do.

Unfortunately, many people don’t understand how location services can be used and disclosed. If the app Privacy Policy says it will collect your location when you have your location services on, and also says it will sell it and disclose it to others, and you agree, that is exactly what they are doing. The information is no longer private and the app developer can use and disclose it to others freely (and legally) because you consented to the collection and use of the location-based data.

Tips for the week with location-based services:

  • Understand which apps are tracking your location and how they are tracking it (read the description under “Location Alerts” in Privacy Settings under Location Services);

  • Consider only allowing your location to be tracked when using a specific app;

  • Turn location services off when not using specific apps or after using the app ;

  • Check Privacy Settings frequently to see which apps have access to location (and other) services and frequently reset them;

  • Read Privacy Policies of apps you have already downloaded or are about to download to see what data they are collecting from you and how they are using and disclosing it to others;

  • Read the disclaimers when they pop up to ask for specific consent and make an educated decision on whether to allow the access and collection to your data;

  • Make an educated decision on whether you will allow others to have access to your location by reading and understanding the “Share My Location” section of the Location Services under Privacy Settings; and

  • Delete any apps that you are not comfortable with the Privacy Policies.

Like the unfortunate situation with the priest who resigned from his position because he was reportedly associated with Grindr based on location services, people are often surprised to find out how their location is tracked and used. Now is the time to re-check your privacy settings and reset them as necessary.

Copyright © 2021 Robinson & Cole LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 203
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About this Author

Linn F. Freedman, Robinson Cole Law Firm, Cybersecurity and Litigation Law Attorney, Providence
Partner

Linn Freedman practices in data privacy and security law, cybersecurity, and complex litigation. She provides guidance on data privacy and cybersecurity compliance to a full range of public and private clients across all industries, such as construction, education, health care, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, utilities and critical infrastructure, marine, and charitable organizations. Linn is a member of the firm's Business Litigation Group and chairs its Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team. She is also a member of the Financial Services Cyber-Compliance Team (CyFi ...

401-709-3353
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