There was a huge outcry to Uber’s recent update which allowed the app to track its users even when they aren’t using the app, which raised a lot of privacy concerns among the masses. The app could track a users’ location five minutes after deboarding the ride.
But that’s not it; the Uber app also tracks your location when you’re using the app in the foreground, as in, while searching for a cab and booking the ride. The app also tracks your location during the ride, until it ends or is cancelled.
The tracking service stays active even if the app is running in the background and isn’t active on screen at the moment.
According to the company, location tracking enhances safety, customer service, pick-ups and drop-offs. But such tracking has also made the users a bit uncomfortable as it raises security and privacy concerns.
Get Rid of Uber’s Tracking Service
If Uber tracking your location even when you’re not using the app is an inconvenience to you, here is how to get rid of it.
All the users of the app have automatically opted into the location tracking service, and you can choose to deactivate it manually from your phone settings.
If you have an iPhone, go to settings, select privacy, then Location services. Find Uber under that tab and choose never.
If you have an Android device, go to settings, select apps, scroll to Uber and click on it. Scroll to permissions on the app page, you’ll be redirected to a new page with toggle for permissions — toggle off the location service.
However, once you revoke Uber’s permission to use your location, you’ll have to manually enter the pickup location inside the app.
Or you can also enable the service for a little while and then disable it as soon as you board your ride. This might look like a bit of hard work, but it’s a very small price to pay for your privacy concerns.
Last updated on 4 Feb, 2021
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Did You Know
Google can analyze millions of pages in a second. the number was initially at 30-40 pages.
On Monday, The New York Times published a story that showed just how easy it is to identify and locate people through anonymized data that's almost constantly being collected by apps on our phones.
While the information provided by the applications doesn't always identify the user, the location tracking is often so precise that it can be used to pinpoint an individual, since it shows where the person is at night (presumably at home) and where they go throughout the day. The Times says many apps use or sell this information to help target ads and for other purposes.
In recent years, Apple and Google have made it easier to identify the applications that have access to your information, and to turn off the ability for those apps to see where you are. Sometimes this can stop an app from performing correctly: a mapping application would need to know your location to provide you with accurate directions somewhere, for example. But others, like weather apps, don't necessarily need to know where you are at all times. You can always just search for your current location.
The iPhone also has controls that allow apps to use your location only when you're using them, instead of all of the time.
I recently went through my iPhone and was surprised to see that I had a few applications that were set to always track my location, instead of as needed. In this guide I'll show you how to take more control of the apps that know where you are, and how to turn off those that never should require your location at all.
How to stop apps from tracking you on your iPhone
- Open Settings.
- Tap "Privacy."
- Select "Location Services."
- If you want to completely stop all apps from using your location, turn Location Services off.
- If you want to manage settings app by app, tap each app and choose "Never" or "While Using." Make sure apps that don't need your location, like most games, are set to "Never." Other apps should be set to track your location only while you're using them. There's no reason an app needs to track you all the time.
I was surprised to see I had about five apps that were always using my location. They were all applications that need to know where I am when I'm using them, like Uber and Google Maps, but there's no need for them to know where I am even when the app is closed. I changed the permissions over to "While Using."
For others, like weather, I switched the permissions from "Always" to "Never," since I can always manually search for the weather and don't need my phone to know where I am.
How to stop apps from tracking you on your Android phone
Android phone makers often have custom menus, so the process for doing this might be different on a Google Pixel versus an Android phone made by Samsung or LG. But, it should be relatively similar across devices running Android P, the latest version of Android. Here's how to stop apps from tracking you on Android:
- Open Settings
- Tap "Advanced."
- Choose "App permissions."
- Select "Location."
- You'll see a list of apps that have access to your location.
- Turn off the apps that you don't think need to know where you are.
I didn't find any suspicious apps trying to track me on Android, but I'm usually diligent about what I allow and what I don't. The apps that had my permission for location included OpenTable, which shows nearby restaurants with reservation availability, and others that need to know where I am, like Uber and Lyft. Unlike the iPhone, Android only lets you turn permission on and off, instead of only while using the app.
Reminder: Some apps need your location to work properly
Some apps do need to know your location in order to function properly, and it's not always obvious which apps these are.
For instance, if you use DraftKings to place bets, then the app needs to confirm that you're in a state where online sports betting is legal, like New Jersey.
But other apps, like the glasses maker Warby Parker don't really need to know where you are . unless you always need to find the nearest Warby Parker store, which seems unlikely.
The New York Times published a story on Thursday about how lots of companies are able to track your location data and even identify people when that information is supposed to be anonymous.
Apple's latest iPhone software, iOS 13, helps protect you more than ever before, and lets you know which apps are tracking your location and when. But your iPhone is still tracking everywhere you go, often by default.
For example, there's a System Services page in iOS that shows 20 different ways your iPhone tracks your location. It does so for a variety of legitimate reasons, but most people probably don't know this page even exists.
Your iPhone uses your location for HomeKit to identify if you're away or near home — one way it can automatically turn on your lights when you get home or turn them off when you leave, for example. There's also a setting to set the time zone automatically based on your location, or to make sure it's searching for the right cellular networks. Another setting can be turned on to share your location with other people, like in the "Find My" app.
But there are a few places where you might not want your iPhone to track you at all. Apple tracks your location for "Location-Based Apple Ads," for example. It can use your location for "Location-Based alerts," or to let you know about merchants where you used Apple Pay to buy something.
More importantly, there's an entire section called "Significant Locations" where Apple stores the places you go frequently — like work, home, or anywhere you've traveled. Apple uses this information for some legitimate purposes, too, like improving "Photo memories" so it can send you recaps of pictures you've taken in certain places. It can also improve your results in Maps, Calendar and other apps. These are all "end-to-end encrypted," which means the information is scrambled on your phone, and "cannot be read by Apple," according to the settings page.
But most of my colleagues who saw this for the first time didn't like it, even if Apple does keep the location data private, largely because they didn't know this area existed. So let's change that.
Here's how to see how your iPhone is tracking your location and how to manage what it tracks.
Take that, Uber. Your shady app doesn’t need constant location data anyway.
There’s a small, but incredibly important feature privacy feature in iOS 11 you’re going to want to use. Instead of giving developers the power to decide which options to present users with for location sharing, Apple is giving that power to iOS 11 users.
Prior to iOS 11, users could only use one of the location access options provided by developers. That meant, for an app like Uber, you were limited to two options. If a developer didn’t want to include the option for use only while you are using the app, you were stuck with Never or Always.
Starting with iOS 11, users will be prompted when he or she launches an app that’s accessing location data. Users can then choose how often the app can access the data. Naturally, most people will only want that to be when he or she is, you know, actually using the app.
Starting with iOS 11, you will always have three options for how an app tracks your location.
Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET
You don’t have to wait until prompted, however. To control each individual app, users will need to go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services to adjust individual app settings. This menu also currently exists in iOS 10 and earlier versions of the OS, but all three privacy options aren’t always available. With iOS 11, however, Apple is giving you the choice to decide how you are tracked — and it’s about time.
Ride-sharing service Uber is growing in popularity. It provides an efficient way for thousands of users each day to get from one place to another. In many locales, Uber is at least modestly less expensive than alternatives like taxi services. That convenience and lesser cost may come at a bigger price than you realize, however. Over the past few months, it has become increasingly clear that your location privacy is not truly safe with Uber.
Does Uber really snoop on your location?
If you’ve ever used Uber or even just installed the app, you’ve put yourself on the company’s radar. In late 2016, we learned that Uber employees were able to track customers in real-time without their consent. Uber employees were claimed to have tracked politicians, celebrities, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, and ex-spouses using the company’s so-called “God View.”
How can Uber track its customers that way?
When you first install Uber on your iPhone, you are prompted to turn on Location Services for the app. Since Location Services only has two possible settings for an app, Always or Never, that means the software is technically capable of tracking where you are even when Uber is running in the background.
The fine print of Uber’s explanation for collecting this data reads:
For improved pickups and dropoffs, customer support, and safety, Uber collects your location (i) when the app is open and (ii) from the time of trip request through five minutes after the trip ends.
Can I turn that capability off?
If you’re not convinced it’s in your best interests for Uber to have access to your location information when you aren’t requesting a ride, you can disable it. Simply go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Uber and set Allow Location Access to Never.
The drawback to doing this is that the next time you request a ride from Uber, the app won’t know where you are. You’ll have to manually type in your address. That seems like a small price to pay to prevent Uber from tracking you without your consent.
Whither goes our privacy?
Even though it’s easy to disable, and Uber states in the update notes that “you’ll always be in control over what location information is shared and can adjust this at any time,” why was this allowed to become a problem in the first place? App developers should be more conscientious about our rights to privacy. We decry invasions on our privacy when the government causes them, so you would think there would be more of an outcry when a service makes the same assault. Has convenience overwhelmed our desire to maintain some privacy?
Uber has started collecting location data from passengers at all times, not just when they're using the app or in an Uber car.
The latest update, 3.222.4, gives Uber permission to constantly access location data so long as the app is still running in the background. Uber said it wouldn’t call on location all the time, and only needed it to improve its service at pickup and drop-off.
Anyone unhappy with Uber having permission to constantly track their location can turn the feature off. On Android go to Settings, Apps, Uber, Permission and toggle Location off. On iOS select Privacy, Location Services, Uber and select Never.
However, it should be noted that the app's main function relies on location data and you can't use the app without it. This means you'll have to enable location every time you want to book a taxi, and disable it to stop the app tracking your location outside of trips.
In an update to its help page, Uber made this very point. It said it would monitor location data for “up to five minutes after the driver ends a trip, even if the Uber app is in the background”. In order to have access to location data for five minutes, Uber explained, device-level permissions require that it has access at all times.
The ride-hailing app said it needed access to more location data to improve a major pain-point for passengers and drivers: finding a pickup spot. Confusion over location accuracy can often lead to a rally of phone calls before a journey can start. With better data, Uber argues, it can improve its service.
The update is likely to be challenged by privacy advocates, with the Electronic Privacy Information Centre already filing a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission for what it described as “unfair and deceptive trade practice”.
Uber’s mobile app made a controversial change in November 2016 when it asked users for location data even when the app wasn’t being used. Now the company is dialing it back — at a suspiciously convenient time.
The latest news out of the cab startup, according to Reuters, is that the company wants to stop tracking you all the time.
Currently, saying no to Uber’s request to access your location greatly limits what the app lets you see and do. Saying yes to location tracking lets Uber see where you are whenever your smartphone is powered on, even if you aren’t using the app. Most apps provide an in-between “while using” option, for when the app is on screen. While Uber can track anyone who accepts these terms whenever they want, the company says it only does so for five minutes after your ride.
Recently, it has been reported that Uber will once again offer an option in the middle: to only be able to see users’ location while the app is open on their phone. Speaking with Joe Sullivan, Uber’s chief security officer, Reuters article says Uber is pushing for better privacy. Though, as Apple’s upcoming iOS 11 software update shows, the company simply won’t be able to get away with it anymore.
Apple’s new iPhone software prevents apps from always tracking users’ location without offering a middle-ground “only while using the app” option. The two phones below (iOS 10 on the left, iOS 11 on the right) show how Apple’s new software forces apps to offer a “while using the app [only]” option when giving up your location.
History has shown us that Apple releases new iPhone software every September, meaning if most iOS users update their phone (which most do) they would probably set location tracking to “while using” anyway.
Interestingly, Uber’s privacy upgrade will come to iPhone towards the end of August, but not Android. Users of Google’s phone software don’t even receive a proper ETA from the company. To quote Reuters, “‘The location-tracking changes will initially only be available to iPhone users, but Uber intends to bring parity to Android devices,’ Sullivan said.”
We’ve reached out to Uber and are awaiting comment. We’ll update this post if we hear back.
In Uber’s defense, the same article mentions that Uber says “it never actually began post-trip tracking for iPhone users and suspended it for Android users.” With Uber able to track GPS-enabled users at any moment, however, we simply have to take their word for it. Things like God View, once available to both employees and drivers, don’t inspire confidence.
At the very least, Uber’s change of heart is good for every iPhone user — even those on 16GB phones that won’t fit iOS 11. Let’s hope Uber locates an update for Android phones sometime soon.
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Does this affect your capabilities to use certain apps? Went through and made a lot of adjustments but unsure how much this will change the use of apps if they are all completely off. TIA
It will the significant locations is how find my works
Note to people. if you turn of certain of those services you may lose capabilities like Find My.
It will also disable Optimized battery charging.
Yes, however turning off significant locations alone will have no affect on any apps
False, turn off your location services and a dialog appears at the bottom. "Location services will be disabled for all apps, but your personalized Location Services settings for apps will be temporarily restored if you use Find My iPhone to enable lost mode".
Edit: Downvote me as much as you want. I can screenshot if for you or you can just go try it yourself.
You can leave that setting turned on.
Any app that wants to use Location Services on iOS must present the user with a dialog, asking for permission and providing the same options from Settings (Always/While using app/Never). It’s not buried in a EULA; it is very prominent, and the user must respond to the dialog. It’s like the literal opposite of “secret”.
Yeah OP has a weird idea of what secret means
But OP isn’t talking about specific apps. He’s talking about Apple.
This needs to be closer to the top, it's clearly laid out in the settings with the rest of your location services. If you're concerned about privacy to begin with you better be looking here anyway.
YSK Apple respects your location privacy, and these systems are in place to create the “Find My” network. All apple products (iPhones, iPads, Watches, MacBooks) use GPS to constantly record their current location to each other and to your Apple ID. Everything is encrypted, and you are the only person who can see the location of your devices. This service is extremely useful to find/lock/disable/ping your lost or stolen devices. Everybody’s devices work together to pinpoint the location of non GPS devices (AirPods, AirTags, Wallet) If you are scared of technology like this, you should definitely stop using the internet. Apple directly states that you are the only person who can access this information, and it is encrypted end to end. If Apple were to lie about this, they would be breaking so many privacy laws by lying to the customer.
Optura Design / Shutterstock
If you’re like me, you’ve probably played this game before, but you may want to stop as soon as possible. This game is similar to Scrabble; you write words based on the letters the game gives you, and the better the word, the more points you’ll get. It seems like a really fun and innocent app until you learn that it asks your permission for “Precise location,” which really shouldn’t be necessary.
Faizal Ramli / Shutterstock
Apps like Draw Something became increasingly popular during the pandemic because of how easy to use they are and their ability to connect and play with friends online. This app is similar to Pictionary, you draw something, and your friends try to guess what it is. However, this app asks permission to read your phone status and identity, allowing the company to access your phone number or call log and share that with advertisers.
Sdx15 / Shutterstock
Angry Birds has dealt with its fair share of issues in the past regarding user privacy. Because of its poor security, this game has been targeted to get users’ information. This is because most Angry Birds games ask permission to access the user’s phone identity, call logs, device ID, and even phone number.
My Talking Tom
Premio Stock / Shutterstock
There’s no more popular digital pet than Talking Tom. Many users, both adults and children alike, love this game. And even though it looks just like a fun game on the surface, My Talking Tom asks for a bunch of information from its users. The app asks you to grant access to track your purchase history, location, your iPhone’s identifiers like your user ID, and even how you use your data. If you or your kids have this app, it may be time to get rid of it.
Games aren’t the only apps you should be worried about. There are other apps on the following slides that you should consider deleting if you care about your privacy. A recent list made by pCloud features the top apps that share your data with other third-party companies. You’ll be shocked to know that most apps on the list are from social media platforms (notice the sarcasm).
Bloomicon / Shutterstock
This popular social media app for employees and employers collects up to 50% of your personal data, including your purchase history, location, contact information, and your iPhone’s identifiers, which isn’t as much as number one on this list.
Hendra Triatmaja / Shutterstock
Although Uber Eats needs to know your exact location for the service to work correctly, this app asks for more information than it probably needs. From your location to your contact information, and your device’s identifiers. Uber Eats asks for this data and shares up to 50% of it with third-party companies.
Facebook + Instagram
Natmac Stock / Shutterstock
At the top of the list are Instagram and Facebook, to no one’s surprise. Both Instagram and Facebook collect a total of 79% and 57% of personal data, respectively. On top of that, both apps practically want access to everything on your iPhone, like purchase history, location, contact information, search history, financial information, and much more.
There are many other apps that ask and use your personal data, but these apps are the ones you should worry about the most. Fortunately, with iOS 14.5, you have a little more control over your information. But you might still consider deleting these apps and games if you worry about your data.