Is your cell phone tracking every move you make?

I recently visited a small coffee shop and glanced at my phone while waiting for a friend to arrive. I had a notification asking if I was, indeed, at that cafe. When I clicked on the icon, my phone immediately showed the full menu and several photos of the establishment. This was possible because the geolocation feature on the phone could pinpoint my travel throughout the morning based on GPS, WiFi, and cell tower networks.

In some contexts, a person may find geolocation capabilities useful and knowingly grant access. For example, if I want to check traffic before leaving the office, a number of apps can detect my location and show the quickest route home. The aggregated geolocation data of others on the freeway is used to determine the speed at which traffic is moving. Weather apps also use geolocation data to provide your local forecast.

However, if you do not want your phone knowing your every move, it is possible to turn off or avoid geolocation in a couple of ways. You can disable it entirely in your phone's settings, though certain functions (such as calls to 911) will still be able to locate your phone. Another way is to deny permission for particular apps to access your location data. Looking at my phone's settings, I noticed that my banking app had recently made a location request to my phone. With a few clicks, I changed that setting to deny the banking app's permission. You may also decide not to install items that require location information if the need for that access is unclear (for example, a Solitaire game app).

If you need help navigating the settings for your particular phone, most cell phone carriers provide online instructions explaining how to turn off the feature.

Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP is actively investigating claims of companies that gain unauthorized access to data or deceive consumers into granting access. Joe Cotchett or Gwendolyn Giblin are heading the investigations into data breach and privacy violations.