Six easy steps for raising your location privacy game

Many applications rely on data collection to function, but that doesn’t mean that you have to surrender your right to privacy.

The right to privacy is one of the pillars of the modern world, and HERE takes it very seriously. We fully support legislation that will protect consumers’ security, like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and we believe that every individual deserves autonomy over and understanding of the way that their data is being collected and used.

Data collection is an essential aspect of mapping apps, ride sharing services, food delivery programs, and other services. All of these types of apps offer a value exchange: you provide your location information; and they provide convenient, faster, more customized services.

However, not all apps that may be accessing your location information actually need to do so. As a smartphone user, you have more control over your location privacy than you might expect. With just a few short steps, you can quickly check and revise who can access your location data on iPhone and Android devices.

How to control location privacy on your Android phone

Your phone gives you the power to select which apps you want to allow to see your location. Use this option if you only want the apps, like mapping or ride sharing services for which it is absolutely necessary they know your whereabouts.

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To check your location settings on Android go to Settings -> Security & Location -> Location -> App-Level Permissions. Now you can see every app installed on your phone that can access your location. It's worth a few minutes to scroll through the list and turn off (or even uninstall) applications that aren't giving you any benefit in exchange for your info.

Additionally, Android phones allow you to control the accuracy of location services by going to Settings -> Security & Location -> Location -> Advanced -> Google Location Accuracy and toggling “Improve Location Accuracy” on or off.  To toggle Emergency Location Services (which will send your location to local authorities when you call emergency services) go to Settings -> Security & Location -> Location -> Advanced -> Google Emergency Location Services.

How to set location privacy on your iPhone

As an iPhone user, you have an additional option when deciding what apps should access your location information, and when. On your iPhone, go to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services. Make sure that “Location Services” is turned on or turn that single slider off if you want to globally disable location sharing.

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In your list of application, you will see three options. "Never" will disallow the application from ever accessing your location information. "Always" allows the application to access your information any time - whether you're using it or not. "While using" enables applications to use your location information when the app is visible on your screen.

Chrome, Firefox and Safari

Even the web browser on your laptop may access your settings. For the most common browsers, here's how to get to where you can control location sharing with the websites you visit.

Chrome -> Settings  -> Advanced -> Site Settings -> Location
From this screen, you can set the browser to ask before sharing your location, as well as manage those sites you may have blocked in the past.

Firefox -> Options -> Privacy & Security -> Location -> Settings
From this view, you can opt to block all websites by default, or you can enable a checkbox to block new requests for your location. By default, Firefox asks you to confirm any time a website wants to use your location information.

Safari -> Preferences
Under the Privacy tab, you can set Safari to prevent cross-site tracking, and turn off location by default. Under the Websites tab, in the Location section, you can see (and manage) all the sites that are currently allowed to use your location.

These are just a few ways you can help take control of your location data. As data continues to become a more significant part of our future and enables us to become even more connected, it will be vital to reconsider the ways companies relate to users. As author, Futurist and big data expert John Ellis has pointed out, a healthy technological future will be one where companies empower users, making sure that there is a conscious agreement between the user and the data collector about the terms and goods exchanged.

Topics: Editor's Picks, Privacy

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