How to Prevent Cell Phones From Being Tracked
BackgroundChidinma is an activist and she's working from a restaurant today. She needs to put make a post on their Facebook page but she is not aware that her location settings is enabled for Facebook and someone could be tracking her every move.
Location technology in cell phones could be helpful when looking for the nearest gas station, but it can also enable others to retrieve information about your whereabouts, legally or illegally. One method of location tracking involves the use of wireless signals to triangulate your position between cell towers. Another method uses the GPS radio on your phone to pinpoint your location. A third method uses the Wi-Fi hot spot to which you’re connected to approximate your current position. If you suspect you’re being tracked using your cell phone, disabling any of these features can help prevent tracking.
Turn off the cellular and Wi-Fi radios on your phone. The easiest way to accomplish this task is to turn on the “Airplane Mode” feature. This shuts down both your cell radios as well as the Wi-Fi radio installed inside your phone so that neither of them can connect to their respective networks.
Disable your GPS radio. Some phones have this as a stand-alone setting, while others bundle it into menus like Privacy or Location Settings. Turning off location-based features on your phone can prevent your GPS from being activated, which in turn keeps it from providing your phone’s location. On some phones, activating “Airplane Mode” will also disable the GPS. Check your phone’s user manual for exact instructions.
On Apple’s iPhone or iPad: Go into your phone’s Settings tab, and then select Privacy. From there, select Location Services. You’ll see a string of apps that use location services. You can choose to disable them all by moving the slider at the top, or disable location services only for specific apps. Does Fruit Ninja really need to know where you are in the world? Probably not.
On Android: Open the App Drawer, go into Settings, select Location, and then enter Google Location Settings. Here, you can turn off Location Reporting and Location History. Location Reporting feeds your location data to various apps, while Location History stores your whereabouts for future use in searches and software like Google Now. You can also jettison your entire location history by selecting “Delete Location History” below Location History.
It’s important to remember that lots of popular apps like Google Maps, Foursquare and more are pretty dependent on having access to your location data to work to the best of their ability — turning off location services means losing some of your smartphone’s capabilities. But that just might be worth it if you’re ultra-concerned about your privacy.
Shut the phone down completely and remove the battery. This is the easiest way to ensure that you can’t be tracked via your cell phone, but it comes at the price of not being able to use your phone at all. If you need access to any data on your phone, back it up to a PC before you power down your device.
- If you believe that someone is maliciously or illegally tracking your cell phone, contact the authorities and report your suspicions.
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