Your location data is a log of where you go and can be collected through your mobile devices and the apps you use.      

It is valuable to advertisers and others as it reveals details of your lifestyle and relationships.

This prototype website has been designed to help you make informed choices about how to manage your location data. It shows you how your devices and apps track your location and ways to control how much is collected. It has been created by Emerging Field and Twigged with funding from the Benchmark Initiative. To find out more about this project read our blog.


UX / UI -  James Barclay

Illustration - Sua Balac

Webmaster / webflow - Daniel Pettifer

CLEAR YOUR TRACKS
Stop your device following your movements
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Scroll down to find out how
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Meet Ali

We are going to follow Ali during a normal day and see how her location data is collected and used.


Once you have completed Ali's journey, we will show you practical tips and tricks for how you can Delete Your Tracks.

Ali is meeting a friend in the park for a picnic. She opens her Map app to plan her route.

When she opens the app it suggests her workplace as her destination. She ignores the suggestion and continues to plan her journey to the park.

Because Ali uses the app regularly it builds up a picture of where she is going and how often.

Ali sets off for the park and her location is captured in different ways as she walks down the street.

Mobile cell towers, wifi hotspots and bluetooth can pinpoint your location over different distances. WiFi hotspots will see her pass – even if she doesn’t log in to them - whereas bluetooth beacons can pinpoint her in-store movements to within a 2m accuracy.

In the park Ali takes a picture with her friend

She uploads the photo to social media

The photo includes information about where it was taken that can be read by services, such as social media sites, when you share the photo with them.


As she has already granted the social media app 'location access', it knows where she is and suggests including location details with her post. Social media platforms can also tell where you are if you ‘check in’ at a location.

It looks like rain, so Ali downloads a weather app to check the weather.

As it’s the first time she’s used it, the app requests ‘location access'.

If apps access your location they can work better, but can continue to collect your data without you always being aware. This data can be used to target advertising in the app or elsewhere on the internet.

Ali and her friend head for a coffee.

On the way Ali scrolls through social media. She is targeted by an ad for another nearby coffee shop. Ads targeted based on your location are known as 'geo-targeted advertising'

Ali decides to get a taxi home. Other people have the same idea. As lots of people are ordering taxis through the same app, in the same location, the journey becomes more expensive.

Apps often combine location data from many people to make the service better for you but also to make more money..

Gathering Ali's location data over time means these organisations can learn her daily habits and routines.

This knowledge about where Ali goes can be combined with her opinions and personal preferences from her social media and online trackers that log the websites she visits. This means the online advertising she sees can be made very specific to her.
Clear Your Tracks

Here's how to clear your tracks and stop your device following your movements.

Map App Settings
Map App Settings

Clear the Map app location history. This is a setting in the app itself. This should reduce the amount of location data that is collected about you when you use the Map app.

Change the ‘Location Services’ setting for apps. This is a setting in your phone operating system. In order for the Map app to work when you use it, you need to make sure it has access to your location “When you’re using the app” rather than “Always”.

Network Settings
Network Settings

Turn off your WiFi and Bluetooth. This is a setting in your phone’s operating system. On some phones, you need to make sure that WiFi and Bluetooth are completely off in the settings rather than just disconnected from nearby networks.

Put your phone into Airplane mode. This will block all signals, including your mobile data, but you will still be able to use some apps on your phone.

Put your phone in a Faraday cage. There are covers and cases for your phone which you can buy online that block all signals.

Turn your phone off.

Leave your phone at home.

Photos
Photos

Turn off location access for your Camera app. This is a setting in your phone’s operating system. This should stop location data being stored in photos and videos when you take them.

Wipe location data from photos before uploading them. You can download apps that allow you to wipe the location data from photos.

Don’t upload photos to social media. Remember that “checking in” also reveals your location.

App Location Settings
App Location Settings

Turn off location access app. This is a setting in your phone’s operating system. In order for the app to work when you use it, you need to make sure it has access to your location “When you’re using the app” rather than “Always”. Some apps may still work without location access.

Location Based Ads
Location Based Ads

Turn off location based ads. This is a setting in your phone’s operating system. Turning this setting off disables location based ads on your device.

Limit ad tracking. This is a setting in your phone’s operating system. Your phone allows you to limit how much advertisers can track you for all ads, not just location based ones. Turning this setting on will make the adverts less relevant to you.

Reset your advertising identifiers regularly. This is a setting in your phone’s operating system. Every device has a unique advertising identifier which is used to match your ad preferences. If you reset this frequently it may mean that advertisers are less able to track you.

Staying Aware
Staying Aware
Clear your tracks
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