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#TechTuesdays: Is location tracking safe?

Moderator

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Smartphones come with a built-in global positioning system (GPS) tracking chip. This helps us find directions to our destination, learn about the nearby establishments, share our location to our family and friends, and hire ride-hailing services. Needless to say, Apple, Facebook and Google have location-sharing tools enabling you to share your current location or let others follow your real-time location. While Snapchat has an interactive map which let people share their location with friends indefinitely. In fact, there are ways for third parties to obtain our whereabouts from a certain time and day using cell towers, metadata transmitted from telecommunications, and data logged on our smartphones.

However, there are now growing concerns on location tracking which includes openly sharing your location online. The real question is what happens to the obtained information? What are the pros and cons of location tracking? Let’s find out here.

 

The convenience of location tracking

 

Allows emergency services to easily find you.

Previously, it takes time for emergency services to locate the exact location of their caller. But now, they get your phone's GPS receiver or work with the phone provider to determine the device's position. This would also enable to find people who don't know their location or can't speak.

 

Helps locate your mobile device.

Did you misplace or lost your smartphone? Fret not, as high-end smartphones are now able to track a missing device using its GPS receiver. It can even provide real-time updates of the phone’s current location. But the phone must be active and charged to continue providing the location until you find it.

 

Keeps tab on your family and friends.

Location sharing is useful if your family wants to know your whereabouts especially when you are travelling abroad. Moreover, if you are a parent who constantly wants to track their child’s location for safety purposes.

 

Tracks your car’s location.

GPS tracking is not just for people. They have been installed to cars to track their location remotely. Additionally, they automatically call for help if you get into an accident (hopefully, not!), and unlock your car if you forgot your car keys inside.

 

The drawback of location tracking

 

Vulnerable to predators.

Sharing your location with your family and friends will inadvertently share your whereabouts to predators such as stalkers and creepers. This would be particularly dangerous for children as they might be tracked without them knowing.

 

Locations disclosed without consent or order.

Did you know that law enforcement can obtain your data location especially when they are investigating a crime? Of course, there are protocols to get your data location. Sometimes companies would email you to inform and if you dispute it to court then they won’t release the data.

 

Sends targeted advertisements.

Companies are using location tracking to follow you all the time and build up your profile of habits which are sold to advertisers. You probably think that’s not harmless but what if potential criminals get a hold of your data location, eh?

 

The bottom line is through location tracking we find the balance between protecting our privacy and sharing our location so that we can stay connected to our family and friends

 

What do you think? Do you believe that location tracking is safe?

 

~ Carla