Tag Archives: security

iPhone and Android are tracking your locations: How, where and what to do about it

Kids smartphones settings privacy location

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It’s hard enough to teach our kids safe, responsible use of the digital technologies we understand without worrying about all the stuff we don’t know. For example, did you realize that your (or your kids’) iPhone or Android device is tracking and recording all the locations you visit?

I had no idea. And it’s safe to say that most kids and parents don’t know about this either, since the setting is buried layers deep.

What does this mean? Anyone with access to your kids’ iPhone or Android device can view and map the places they visit frequently, the dates and times they were there. Their home. Their school. Their friends’ houses, favourite hangouts, the hockey arena, soccer pitch or dance studio where they go every week.

Apple, which included this feature in their iOS 7.0 update, insists this information isn’t stored anywhere on the cloud, so it’s totally safe. Unless, of course, someone gets hold of your phone and manages to access your data.It’s also unclear how this data is used when you access apps with location services, such as requesting a map with roads near you.

If you have an Android device it’s even worse, because this data is recorded through your Google account, accessible by hackers on any device. They don’t need your kid’s phone to hack into this information.

One of the challenges in keeping ourselves – and our kids – safe in a digital era is understanding the many ways data is collected about our activities. This is a worthwhile conversation to have with your kids – get them involved in adjusting the settings, so they understand why it’s important to manage personal data.

How do I change the settings? Changing the settings isn’t hard, but it ca be confusing, because it is buried layers deep. The step-by-step instructions for iPhone are listed below with screenshots.

How will this affect my use of the phone and apps? Not at all. You can still access Google Maps, Yelp and any other location-based app as long as location services are enabled.

Step 1: Go to Settings and click on Privacy.

iPhone settings safety location privacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Click on Location Services

iPhone privacy settings kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Click on System Services – you may need to scroll down to the bottom of a long list of apps.

iPhone location services settings kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: Select Frequent Locations click to turn it off.

iPhone Frequent Locations settings kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 6: You can click on any of the items in the list to see specific locations mapped with details of dates and times.

iPhone My Locations settings kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have an Android device? Follow the step-by-step instructions in this video to disable the settings, or follow the screenshots at the bottom of this page at Today.com.

 

 

How posting pictures online threatens your kids’ privacy (and what to do about it)

How posting pictures online threatens your kids’ privacy (and what to do about it)

Did you know your exact location can be pinpointed from pictures you post online? That with a simple, free, downloadable software, anyone can determine your address, your kids’ daycare, their favourite ice cream spot, even where their bedrooms are in your house or apartment?

If that sounds like the rumblings of paranoia, think again. Watch this news segment to see exactly how experts were able to simply and effectively plot all this information based on the pictures parents took on their smartphone cameras and posted online.

It’s pretty scary stuff. Although I would normally assume this kind of thing was another Internet hoax, the link was forwarded to me by a trusted source at Ometz, an organization in which I have enormous trust and respect. I know they checked this out very carefully.

Immediately after watching the segment, I checked out the site they recommend (www.Icanstalku.com) to learn more. This explained how this cyberstalking is even possible. The answer is metadata, which means the extra information typically embedded in a data file, but hidden from casual viewing. Turns out when we take pictures on our smartphones, we are generally also recording information about the photographer, camera settings (like ISO, aperture or processing software). Since many of today’s smartphones are also GPS-enabled, and since the default setting is to allow location recording, it also embeds information about where the picture was taken. This is also called Geotagging.

Take a deep breath. You can easily change this. The same website offers a useful series of steps for changing this default setting on most smartphones.  Click here and find your smartphone (and your kids’ smartphones) on the list. Follow the steps and make the changes.

Be aware that changing the default will affect your abilities to use GPS and mapping apps on your phone. When you want to use those, you can change the settings back temporarily.

Of course, making these changes affects all future pictures taken and posted. I can’t offer you too much in the way of reassurance about the pictures you’ve already snapped and uploaded to the Internet. You can try and retrace your steps and remove them, but there’s no guarantee they haven’t been copied and reposted in other places.

Like many things online, we learn as we go. It’s an admittedly uncomfortable feeling for parents.