A document obtained by The New York Times notes that more than 12 million smart devices were pin-positioned in the months 2016-2017. Although the data is technically anonymous, the report details how easy it is to correlate specific data. Combining public information such as home addresses makes it easy to identify and track a particular user. Special vigilance is needed for law enforcement officials, lawyers, and technicians who focus on privacy and confidentiality.
(Instagram via MacRumors)
In one case, it could point to a change in the day-to-day activities of a Microsoft engineer. One Tuesday afternoon, it visited Microsoft rival Amazon’s main campus in Seattle.
The following month, the engineer moved to Amazon and started a new job. After a few minutes of information screening and aggregation, it turns out that he is Ben Broili, the current Amazon Prime Air Drone Delivery Services Manager.
The report explains that the information comes from the SDK of apps that integrate location data, such as Gimbal, NinthDecimal, Reveal Mobile, Skyhook, PlaceIQ, and more.
Even more disturbing is the fact that these can be legally collected and sold in the United States. In response, Apple has been working to increase privacy protections for its users.
In iOS 13, for example, when a third-party app requests access to user location information, there is no longer an ‘always allowed’ option.
If the user wants to grant continuous access to location data, they must move to ‘Settings – – Privacy – Location Services’.
In addition, Apple requires the app to provide users with detailed descriptions of where to use the location data.
Privacy-conscious iPhone users can move to Settings – Privacy – Location Services, disable location access for those apps that are not necessary, or review the privacy policies of a particular app in detail before using them.