State DOJ warns against mobile app location tagging
California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris issued a consumer alert regarding location services used by mobile applications (apps).
Location services on mobile devices provide a variety advantages for app users, such as lists of nearby restaurants, directions to a friend’s home or a local weather forecast, a California Department of Justice press release stated. However, some apps can access a user’s location all the time, even when they’re not using them.
Broadcasting a location can sometimes expose a user and their family to risk of theft or physical harm, the press release stated.
The press release explained that a person may be unknowingly revealing their location if their phone is “geo-tagging” uploaded photos.
When a person takes a photo with their mobile devise, the location where it was taken may be inserted into the image file, along with the date/time stamp. If the user posts the photo online, they are revealing their location at a point in time.
For example, sharing a “selfie” without disabling geo-tagging could be dangerous to victims of stalking or domestic abuse.
How mobile location services work may be technical, the press release staes, but users don’t have to be an engineer to have more control.
By adjusting the settings on a mobile device, the user can control location services to protect their privacy.
For more information regarding mobile privacy, including how to control location information on several mobile platforms, see the California Department of Justice’s information sheets Getting Smart About Smartphones: Tips for Consumers and Getting Smart About Smartphones: Tips for Parents. For tips on safe social networking, see Staying Private in Public: How to Limit Your Exposure on Social Network Sites. All are available online at http://www.oag.ca.gov/privacy/info-sheets.