Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

The Ultimate Method of Being Tracked

Do you value your privacy? Of course you do! Then why do you provide 24 hour-a-day tracking of your whereabouts to police, government agents, relatives, hackers, potential kidnappers, child molesters, or to would-be burglars who want to make sure you are not at home?

NOTE: I am guessing your children might be near you. Another situation is that your older child(ren) might have his or her own cell phone and he or she can be easily tracked. That’s a good thing for a concerned parent to be able to see where the child is at all times but not so good when you realize hackers and other evil-doers will also be able to see the same thing at any time.

The police used a location tracking Android app to find an arsonist this last week. It’s a rather entertaining story. The arsonist and his son used the Life360 app to track each other’s whereabouts and the police used that data to prove the arsonist was at the fire when it started. On the one hand, it’s a unique story. However, it’s also a little disconcerting that a location tracking app just gives up its privacy data like that. In any case, you can read the whole story at http://bit.ly/3bHzPZ3.

Categories: Offline Privacy & Security, Online Privacy & Security

4 replies

  1. Simple answer: don’t use cell phones. My wife and i have never had a cell phone, never will. We simply have no need of a cell phone. We have a perfectly good phone plugged into the wall and a perfectly good computer. We don;t need a phone nr a computer when we’re walking about in our community.

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    • I believe your philosophy of no cell phone usage is a good one and will work for many people. However, there are many of us (myself included) who travel a lot, have business requirements, or need to be available at all times for “emergencies” by children and other people. In short, there is no way I will ever give up my cell phone. (I disconnected my wired phone at home more than 10 years ago.)

      HOWEVER, there is an easy method of disabling any apps that track your location: TURN OFF THE GPS that is built into most cell phones! If the GPS is disabled, the phone will never reveal your exact location (although the cellular network operators probably can still see your APPROXIMATE location, plus or minus 2 or 3 miles).

      Another alternative is to stop using a true cell phone and switch to an Apple iPod Touch with a VoIP (telephone) app installed. However, that also has significant other drawbacks but is still better than no phone at all. You can read more in my earlier article at: https://privacyblog.com/2015/08/20/the-most-secure-way-to-communicate-an-ipod-touch/ (which simply points to another article at http://www.wired.com/2015/08/secure-way-communicate-ipod-touch ).

      Also, install a good VPN on the iPod touch.

      Using an iPod touch with a VoIP app means that cellular network operators will not be able to see your true location at all, not even within 12,000 miles.)

      I have a VoIP app installed on my iPod touch and find that it works well if I am within wi-fi range. (And I am within wi-fi range most of the time. That’s not true for everyone else, however.) That’s the “telephone” I use whenever I need to talk with someone at my bank, stock broker, or for any other communications I want to keep private. Hackers probably cannot tap into my iPod touch “phone” although they probably can wiretap the phones of the company or person I am calling, just as they have been doing for many years. The capability of wiretapping old-fashioned wired phones hasn’t changed in decades.

      For true security of voice or even 2-way video communications, call ONLY from a cell phone to another cell phone with both parties using Signal or some other end-to-end encrypted calling app. Those same apps also allow you to bypass charges for “toll calls.” Depending upon how many long distance calls you make, that could result in considerable savings. If you call overseas often, that could be a huge savings.

      For details about disabling GPS in regular cell phones, read these articles:

      How To Turn Off GPS On Your Phone – https://www.addictivetips.com/ios/turn-off-gps-on-your-phone/

      How to Turn GPS off on Android – https://www.wikihow.tech/Turn-GPS-off-on-Android

      How to Turn Off GPS on a Cell Phone – https://traveltips.usatoday.com/turn-off-gps-cell-phone-21147.html

      How to quickly enable or disable GPS on your Android device – https://www.simplehelp.net/2009/07/30/how-to-quickly-enable-or-disable-gps-on-your-android-device/

      And a bunch of other, similar articles that can be found by starting at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=andrpid+turn+off+gps

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  2. I’m now using iPod touch because of you. Since it is lacking a sim card and GPS, I use it as a PDA and a camera. Also, I only install apps that I trust.
    Apps installed:
    Wireguard (Mullvad)
    Ooma Voip
    Ooma Security
    Apple Music
    OsmAnd
    Apps I want to install:
    Etesync
    pcloud
    Wickr

    Like

    • I have pCloud installed on the iPad touch and it seems to work well. Admittedly, I don’t have much need to transfer files back and forth to the tiny iPod touch other than occasional photos and a lot of mp3 files of my favorite music.

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