FCC tries to confirm carriers stopped selling phone location data

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Apple Maps reservation OpenTable
You can’t escape your phone company tracking you, but the FCC can make them stop selling the information.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The CEOs of the big four US wireless carriers were asked by an FCC commissioner whether they’ve stopped selling their customers’ real-time location data, as they had promised to do.

Published reports in recent months indicated that the locations of Americans were being sold without their permission of even knowledge.

Military bans personnel from using location-tracking tech

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Significant Locations
This information shouldn't fall into the hands of enemies.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Whether it’s our phones, our fitness trackers, or even something as innocuous as a dating app, much of the technology we use on a regular basis tracks our physical location.

Knowing the potential security risk this poses, the Pentagon banned deployed military personnel from using tech with active location-tracking features.

Your Google apps might snitch if you’re near a crime scene

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Google Maps Feb 18 update
Google location data is being used by investigators, apparently.
Photo: Google

If you find yourself within the immediate radius of a crime that’s committed, you could find your personal data seized by police, with a helping hand from Google.

That’s the takeaway from a recent report about how Raleigh police have presented Google with broad search warrants, requesting user data from all mobile devices with a certain vicinity of particular crimes. In one case, Google was reportedly asked for unique data for all homes and businesses within a 17-acre area of a gun-related incident.

How to disable location suggestions in macOS Sierra

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Location Based Suggestions
Here's what to do if you don't want localized suggestions.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Much like Google offers personalized searching, macOS Sierra delivers location-based tips as part of its suggestions within Spotlight, Siri, Safari and Maps. That means Apple will try to recommend relevant services within your immediate vicinity.

If you don’t want this feature, however, there is a way to get rid of it. Check out our guide below to show how to do this — and how to turn it back on again if you change your mind.

Panic button app could save your life — or go terribly wrong

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WItness gets you help from your own emergency contacts when you need it most.
Photo: George Tinari/Cult of Mac

If you’re afraid of ever being in a dangerous situation without any witnesses or good samaritans nearby, you might want to consider downloading this new app appropriately named Witness. Calling itself the ‘panic button for the smartphone age,’ one tap broadcasts live video and your current location to a list of preset emergency contacts, who can then decide if it’s appropriate to take action.

Of course, if they do nothing, they could potentially have front-row seats to a very morbid and disturbing show.

Your location has been shared more than 5,000 times in the last two weeks

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How much is your smartphone spying on you? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
How much is your smartphone spying on you? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Smartphone users know that sharing personal data with apps can be part of the price of free apps, but when it comes to how frequently those apps give that data to third parties, the numbers will shock you.

A new study by Carnegie Mellon found that some smartphone users’ data is shared more than 5,000 times with third parties in a two-week period. Most people are totally clueless this is happening, but the study found that when people learn how much frequently data is being shared, they act rapidly to shut down the spread of personal info.

iOS 8 privacy changes bring big layoffs to retail tracking startup

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iOS8

iOS 8 is cruising through the final stages of development ahead of its fall release, and while most users can’t wait for its arrival, one NY-based startup already had to cut a third of its staff, after privacy changes in iOS 8 have threatened to already make its retail tracking technology obsolete.

Nomi, a startup that creates solutions for retail stores to track shoppers and their spending habits, has laid off 20 of its 60 or so employees, thanks in part to some small changes in iOS 8 that make make it impossible to identify repeat visits from shoppers with an iPhone.

Does Your Grandma Keep Getting Lost At Wal-Mart? There’s An App For That [CES 2012]

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bikn

 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – We’ve seen countless solutions to finding lost car keys over the past few decades, but this latest solution from Treehouse Labs makes the attempt to be practical and fun while solving one of mankind’s greatest problems through an iPhone app. Bikn is a location tracking solution to help you find anything that has a tendency to get lost: dogs, purses, cameras, your grandparents at Wal-Mart, you name it. By attaching a small location tracker to any item you tend to lose, Bikn makes finding things easier than ever.