apps tracking location

How to stop apps from tracking your location

Is your phone tracking where you go? You might not realise, but a large number of apps could be tracking your location at any given time. Learn how to protect your privacy and stop these apps today.

Can apps track your location?

Many apps will automatically track your location unless you’ve explicitly told them not to (or turned off the permissions in your settings). 

Apps will track you to gather location data and monitor what you like to do. According to The New York Times, at least 75 companies know people’s exact location from their app usage. 

That’s a lot of prying eyes! 

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to check if your apps are storing your data, and how you can prevent this invasion of privacy. 

How can I tell if an app is using my location?

Firstly, you should always read the small print in the policies of apps before downloading them. This information will usually tell you how they store location data. 

Apps don’t make it obvious that they’re tracking your location, so you’ll have to go into your settings to find out which ones are. 

On iPhones

Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services

If your location services are on, apps that have permission will be able to track you. 

Alternatively, you can also go to:

Settings > Privacy > Tracking 

This will show you a list of the apps that function with tracking technology. To reject permission, make sure the toggles are switched to grey for off. 

On Android phones

On Android, you should be aware that apps can keep storing your location data even when you’re not using the app! 

To manually stop specific apps from monitoring you, go to:

Settings > Apps > App permissions > Location

Or, alternatively, you can:

Hold down an app’s icon on your home screen > App info > All permissions > Location

Through either one of these methods, you should be able to see a list of apps that are tracking you, and what permissions they each have.

What happens if I stop an app from using my location?

When you turn off location services on your phone and apps, your smartphone’s location will no longer be trackable. 

This means navigation apps won’t be able to pinpoint your location for journeys, and other apps won’t be able to store your location data as you move around. 

Unless it’s an app that relies on accessing your location to function, like Maps, turning off location services will not inhibit the use of an application. 

Is my location history stored?

Unfortunately, apps do track more than we think. Google keeps a history of your locations, and can usually keep tracking you even with your location services turned off.

On iPhones

You can access your location history on an iPhone by going to:

Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Significant Locations

On Androids

Or on Android by going to:

Google Maps > Tap Menu (three horizontal lines) > Tap timeline > Tap calendar icon > Tap a date to see location history

You can also find your location history on your Google Account.

Can I remove my location information from databases?

You can delete your location history from your phone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be deleted everywhere else. 

The problem is that your location history could be saved on numerous databases (due to companies selling your personal data). So even if the app developers remove it from their database, the information might be somewhere else on a different server. 

You can at least remove your location information off of your device, so that if it’s ever lost or stolen, people won’t be able to track where you’ve been. 

On iPhones

Go to:

Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Significant Locations

From here, you can either delete a single location by tapping it, pressing edit, and then tapping to delete. Or, if you want to delete all of your saved locations, simply press Tap Clear History.

On Android phones

Go to:

Google Maps > Your Timeline > More > Settings and privacy > Location Settings > Delete all Location History

How to stop location tracking on an iPhone

Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Switch toggle to off [grey]

It’s also helpful to permanently delete any apps you no longer use, so your smartphone isn’t unknowingly collecting data behind your back. 

How to stop location tracking on Android

Settings > Location > Use location > Switch toggle to off

Like iPhone users, people on Android should delete any apps they no longer use or need, so that location data isn’t being stored unknowingly. 

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