How to Disable Location Data on Your Android Device
(to stop your phone from spying on you)
Android users choose to disable location data to protect their privacy and conserve battery life. Location data is in use by a number of apps including hotel loyalty apps, airlines apps, social media, Google maps, banking apps for the sake of security, and many more. One of the most recognizable apps using location data is your Android device’s camera! Even the app for my gym membership monitors my location. It knows when I’ve been in for a workout! It knows when I am traveling too!
Location data is digital information a phone stores tagging the location of your device when you take photos, use a parking app, Google maps, Facebook tracking, and a mess of other privacy encroaching apps. Many of these apps are in use or turned on by default without users even knowing they are at work sharing their location with services the user is not aware of or does not need.
In the case of a photo snapped from an Android device, the location data is recorded with the photo. This data includes the date the image was taken, the location which includes the city, state, country, the venue, and technical information about the camera and image quality. This data can be used for Google location tracking.
Apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Viber, even YouTube access your location data. Google Maps creates a timeline of your location. When a user grants an app access to an smartphone camera and microphone, the app could do the following:
- Access both the front and the back cameras
- Record any time when the app is in the foreground
- Take photos and videos without telling you
- Upload photos and videos it takes immediately
- Use facial recognition to identify people in the images
- Livestream the camera stream to the internet
How Do I Disable Location Data on My Android Device
Disabling your location data is simple on an Android device. The location can be switched on and off by pulling down the main menu. Tap “location” to toggle the data on and off. Remember that apps and features you way actually want will not work when location data is off. For example, Instagram will not be able to read the location of your photos when posting. Google maps will still give point-t0-point directions, but it won’t know where your starting point is or your progress.
Phone apps access information including location from a phone when a user grants permission for those apps to do so. The problem is that many users do not realize that they are giving an app permission to access a device full-time.
How to Stop My Phone from Spying on Me?
Don’t give apps unnecessary permissions they do not need. Think about what permissions and access an app is requesting before you agree to use the app. Does your mapping app REALLY need to access your phone contacts and camera? No. Does your SMS app need to access your microphone? Not unless you plan on speaking your text messages while driving. If an app won’t install without additional, unneeded permission then it is best to find another app that will do the job minus all the snooping. It is not uncommon to hear that a malicious app recorded texts and camera data and sent it outward for “research” purposes!
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers