Last week’s Privacy Tip centered on how our cell phone geolocation data is being sold by the telephone companies Cell Phone Geolocation Data Being Sold. I sent out an APB to readers to answer my question about how they can do this when I turn off my location based services. My question was “…the thing I want to know is whether your location can be tracked if your location based services are turned off?”
I received multiple answers, and here are the most helpful that I want to pass along to you:
One reader responded: “To answer your question, ‘I want to know whether your location can be tracked if your location based services are turned off?’ The answer is yes.
The information the phone companies are selling is gathered from the phone’s administration communications with the cell sites, “Hi. I’m here. I can accept a call.” The signal is picked up from multiple cell sites and is evaluated to determine which site is receiving the strongest signal. Location is determined by triangulation. While not precise, it can get you into the neighborhood.
If they were using the phone’s GPS-based location services the location would be within a few yards.”
Another reader sent me several links to other articles, one of which I found to be concerning, and the other very helpful. I hope they help:
It has also been reported that Senator Ron Wyden renewed efforts for the Senate to adopt his legislation that bans the carriers from selling users’ location data, and expressed disappointment with the carriers, who previously “pledged to end these practices.”