Guarding Your Footprints: Exploring The Importance of Location Privacy

Guarding Your Footprints: Exploring The Importance Of Location Privacy

Today’s world is, unfortunately, a dangerous place. Though technology can provide many benefits and conveniences, it also benefits those with bad intentions. With this in mind, let’s discuss guarding your footprints: exploring the importance of location privacy.

Location Data is typically collected one of three ways, according to Quadrant experts. These three ways are the Global Positioning System of satellites, which can then be accessed by the second way through server integration by the second collection method: App Publishers. The third way of collecting this data is through Bidstream, using ad servers. 

 In this article we will discuss the ins and outs of Location Privacy, why that data is valuable, what it is used for once it is collected, and how to preserve your own personal freedom as well as autonomy. We’ll even cover some of the most common threats to personal autonomy. Let’s get started!

What is Location Privacy?

Location privacy can be defined as an individual’s right to decide when, how, and why the information of their location or the locations of their assets can be given out to anyone else. When someone knows your physical location, or the location of your assets, they can also violate your personal privacy if they so choose.

A person who has eliminated your location privacy can obtain access to your personal information and even your person that much more easily.

There are two basic kinds of location data that can be gathered. The first is known as “Vector” data. Vector data utilizes lines, points, and polygonds. These represent features in the physical world like mountains, cities, and roads as well as bodies of water. Vector location data is generally stored in GIS, or “Geographic Information Systems.”

The second kind of location data that can be gathered is more accessible: it is called “Raster” data. Raster data’s form represents features of space; remote satellite data falls under this second category.

The Value of Location Data

Location Data is very important to different businesses and companies. For example, some companies utilize location data to advertise, especially digitally, in real-time. They can target specific ads to specific potential audiences via their offerings near a physical location.

Additionally, businesses like shipping companies or even law firms need to know the location of clients or even potential clients in order to assign employees to specific jobs or tasks with the most efficiency. If it takes too long to ship or travel, time easily becomes a loss of money. The use of location data can prevent this loss of money.

However, just as this information can be beneficial to businesses and advertisers, just the presence of location data represents a risk. If any criminal entities were to get ahold of the location data stored and used by one company, it could easily be used to take advantage of both the company and it’s clients. This is why location data security is so important.

The Importance of Location Privacy

Let’s examine the three categories that truly emphasize why location privacy is so important.

Personal Safety and Security

If a criminal wants to assault or steal certain assets from a victim, that victim’s locations, and the locations of the assets themselves, is crucial information to pull off the crime. Therefore, when this information is kept secret, a victim is less vulnerable.

 If an unauthorized party is able to learn where you are, or even obtain information on historical locations such as your daily route to work or your most-frequented places to shop,  that information can be used against you.

Preserving Personal Freedom and Autonomy

Location tracking has often been linked to detriments to personal freedom, or even autonomy. After all, some American laws allow police authorities access to information about where a person goes and is likely to go thanks to that information.

Constant surveillance and tracking can cause an individual to lose the ability, over time, to choose where they go and, of course, how they get there. These losses of freedom can lead back to a loss of privacy in one’s personal life, too. Where someone goes can tell a lot about their life, in general.

Minimizing Targeted Advertising and Manipulation

It is important to realize that data such as locations can be used to create a targeted advertising campaign by companies looking to make a profit. SMS messaging, for example, can gather information about where a consumer lives in order to create personalized content specifically designed to up the likelihood that the consumer will buy their product.

While this can be beneficial to a consumer who only wants to see products that may be relevant, there is such a thing as too much tracking. Potential negative consequences definitely include manipulation, or even invasive advertising practices like overwhelming amounts of messages, making day-to-day tasks difficult.

Threats to Location Privacy

Now let’s discuss what threats exist to the all-important location privacy. Unfortunately, there are many, but with this brief overview, you will be that much closer to circumventing these threats.

Data Breaches and Security Vulnerabilities

When data breaches do occur, and security is vulnerable to these breaches, the risks can be very serious. For example, if someone’s personal life involves a repetitive trip to an embarrassing location, this information could be part of a data breach and disrupt their lives.

Data encryption, which is a security method commonly used to protect information, is one way that these security vulnerabilities can be limited. When information travels from one source to another, it can be vulnerable; however, encryption scrambles that data during travel, keeping it safe from outside sources.

Surveillance and Government Access

The federal government does have some access to location data, used for surveillance purposes. In the United States, this is usually accessed not with a search warrant, but because the government purchases cell phone data from the companies themselves, including location data.

Though this can help police and other federal authorities to track down criminals, it is also a major breach in privacy in many cases.

Just because governmental authorities have information, it does not always mean they will apply that information correctly. In some cases, wrongful arrests have been made based on location data alone rather than substantial evidence. It is plain to see that there are consequences to sharing location data even with this trusted entities.

Third-Party Data Sharing

Mobile apps as well as service providers can sometimes, as previously discussed have access to location data. However, these mobile apps do not always use this data for appropriate reasons. What’s worse, sometimes the service providers’ security fails, causing location data to be up for grabs to villainous parties.

Protecting Location Privacy

Let’s talk about the hope for protecting location privacy!

Privacy Settings and Permissions

Privacy settings are located on every mobile device, and offer consumers the ability to limit location tracking; however, many do not take the time to explore this option. We encourage a thorough examination of the terms and conditions behind every app to find these options.

Additionally, some apps, such as GlassWire Data, can offer additional protection and screening of data across applications. They offer security features, like the aforementioned encryptions, to make it more difficult for privacy to be breached.

Location Spoofing and Anonymization Techniques

Anonymizing data is a great way to protect one’s location privacy. One way to do this is through a technique called “Pseudonymization.” This security feature changes the name or notable features of a user’s actual location into a type of pseudonym to confuse potential security breaches.

Some techniques are more effective than others. While encryption technology and pseudonymization do have their uses, they can sometimes be bypassed by efficient technology. It is important to research the best options for the location data you are trying to protect.

Educating and Empowering Users

With that in mind, it is important for users to take matters into their own hands when it comes to staying educated. Location-based technology is changing day by day, and remaining ahead of the curve can help users to anticipate the way data may be misused or mismanaged, protecting their own privacy.

Balancing Convenience and Privacy

As intimidating as the idea of your personal information being released without your permission may be, it is also unthinkable to go without location technology altogether. Without GPS tracking, many would find it difficult to reach their destinations almost daily.

Additionally, in a family sharing plan, one could be sacrificing their ability to monitor loved one’s safety, especially in the case of an emergency. However, when safety is the chief concern, it can all come back to the dangers of having trackable location information.

Individuals must remain informed and act out of a confidence in what they can do, rather than acting out of fear of the things they cannot control. Ultimately, it is all up to what a user determines is best in terms of their own needs and tolerance of risks.  


In conclusion, it is intensely important to actively safeguard your location privacy during today, the digital age. The dangers of this technology also come with amazing benefits, such as the freedom that you have to stay informed about how they work.

Make conscious decisions to know how your GPS and mobile apps work, what they may be using the data for, and how the technology places safeguards, if any, against threats to loss of privacy. You can also advocate for stronger privacy protections with the power you have as a consumer and a citizen. There is hope for guarding your footprints!

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