How to: Check Where and When You’ve Been, and Then Shut it Down

Android devices are powerful weapons of mass destruction for boosting productivity and communications. Quite frankly, I’m addicted to the connectivity.

But, as we move more toward a totally connected world, it’s probably scarier than we can all imagine. Remember the NSA?

Just go and visit this site. I’ll wait . . .

Scary, right?

Location History

Tracking your whereabouts sounds like spy versus spy. Not really, and if you’re truly honest with yourself, you probably figured that “evil Google” was doing something like this.

Mobile devices naturally share geolocation data. I’ve talked about these concerns, and in case you missed it, check out how “evil Google” uses Google+ to compromise your security.

Getting rid of the “problem”

Personally, I don’t get too upset about these types of “your security’s at risk” revelations. In fact, although Google seems evil, the company’s actually being transparent about what information you’re sharing and how that appears to third parties. Think about the last time your cell phone provider showed you all your cell tower pings.

If you’re one who feels it’s not right, Android makes shutting down sharing easy: Settings > Location > click On to Off.

Location onThree simple steps.

You can further customize your sharing settings by clicking Google Location Reporting.

Google Location Reporting

Adjusting these sharing settings customizes what information gets reported to Google Maps, Google Now, or other Google services.

Google Location

Location History

Notice that you can delete your location history with the click of a button.

A fair warning about location sharing

Shutting down location sharing means your Android device or apps won’t operate unless you turn this feature back on. Mrs. The Droid Lawyer is one who turns off her location sharing. “It’s pointless,” she says.

That’s probably true if you’re not using a lot of location-dependent services like GPS, navigation, Moves, Google Now, or even MyTracks.

More importantly, if you’re using Android Device Manager (and you should) or virus protection apps with “find my phone” capabilities, they won’t work.

I’m not really too worried

Location sharing is always active on my Android devices. First, I want to find my device if I need to. But more importantly, I use a lot of location-enabled apps, so I want GPS and other services active.

Secondly, I’m not too concerned about someone “discovering” some secret about my behavior patterns. As my map shows, I spend a lot of time at work or home, neither of which is secret.

Location Sharing Dashboard

 

really do spend more than 19 hours per week at the office.

I try to maintain some privacy — which is why I don’t overtly reference Mrs. The Droid Lawyer’s or The Droid Tots’ real names — but ultimately, if someone wants my location information it’s not hard to find.

I’m particularly fond of the fact that Google gives me the ability to view, delete, and turn off the features I don’t want, because control is the greatest advantage in personal privacy. Now, I know where and when I’ve been at a location, and I can turn that off.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.