Online Banking

Should You Allow Apps to Access Your Location?

You should reasonably expect just about any app connected to your Facebook account to compile your contacts, likes, and Instagram movement. But there are plenty of other apps prying into your personal space. Like thousands. In one Northeastern University study, more than half of the 17,000 apps surveyed were able to take screen-shots on your phone. These are the most egregious offenders:

The Weather Channel App
This seemingly innocuous weather app was accused in a lawsuit of collecting and profiting off its 45 million users' location data. Just tell us if we need to bring an umbrella.

La Liga
For using your phone's mic to record audio and location data to detect bars illegally broadcasting games, the official app of the Spanish soccer league was fined more than $280,000.

Musical.Ly
The short-video-sharing giant asked for personal information like phone number and name. Standard practice, right? Not when your users are under 13 and their parents aren't giving consent. The developer, now known as TikTok, paid out a $5.7 million settlement.

GoPuff
The Northeastern study found that the food-delivery app can and did video-record users' screens. GoPuff then sent that data off to an analytics company. The study suggested it was only for performance optimization.

Controlling app location tracking is a challenge that all mobile phone users face for now and the foreseeable future. There’s no perfect way to prevent internet marketers from tracking you and selling your data. As app vendors and phone manufacturers develop increasingly sophisticated tools to let you control how much of your information gets out there, the other side is perfecting new ways to circumvent controls over what they can find out about your life. The best you can do is maintain awareness, be familiar with all the controls at your disposal, and allow your location to be shared only at a bare minimum necessary for you to function.

Here's how to control your location data on your smartphone.