Mobile Development

The Dark Side of Mobile Apps: Are They Tracking Your Every Move?

The Dark Side of Mobile Apps: Are They Tracking Your Every Move?

Tracking apps have become increasingly popular, providing convenience and real-time presence to users who want to know or monitor the whereabouts of their trackable ones present now.

 What could be the reason for not wanting to check on your kid’s journey home from school or your partner’s commute to work?

GPS tracking apps have seemingly innocent motives. However, it is crucial to recognize that tracking apps can present a darker side, as they can be exploited as tools for abusers to exert control over their victims.

While it may seem obvious that certain apps track your location for legitimate reasons, such as weather updates or discovering nearby stores, researchers have uncovered deceptive data collection practices.

A peer-reviewed study of almost one million Android apps revealed that almost 90 percent of these apps are designed to transmit information back to Google, highlighting the extent of data harvesting without users’ explicit consent.

Furthermore, it is important to be aware that many smartphone apps collect and share location data without users’ knowledge.

The collection of location data can have various significances, both positive and negative. On one hand, it facilitates services like mapping, traffic information, and personalized recommendations. On the other hand, it presents serious concerns about data privacy and the potential abuse of personal data.

The millions of dots on a map representing anonymous cellphone users’ paths illustrate this. Each dot represents a person who unknowingly reveals their movements as their smartphone tracks their every step. This information can be used to build detailed profiles of individuals, revealing their habits, routines, and even personal relationships.

One of the most troubling aspects of tracking apps is their potential for misuse of abusive relationships. Abusers may manipulate these apps to exert control and monitor their victims’ movements.

This can lead to feelings of surveillance, isolation, and increased vulnerability for the victims. It is crucial to recognize these privacy risks and ensure that individuals have control over their location data.

One path tracks someone from a home leaves a house in upstate New York at 10 a.m. and travels to a university 14 miles away, staying until late afternoon each university day. Only one person makes that trip: Magrin Hook, a 40-year-old math teacher. Her smartphone goes with her.

This article sheds light on the potential privacy risks associated with tracking apps and the concerning data practices.As a deputy project director at the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, Nathan Freed Wessler concentrates on litigation and advocacy regarding surveillance and privacy issues. This includes government searches of electronic devices and requests for sensitive data from third parties. He presented the case Carpenter v. United States in the U.S. in 2017. The Supreme Court seeks to affirm that law enforcement must get a search warrant before accessing cell phone location data from cellular service providers, as required by the Fourth Amendment.

B. Smartphone Apps are tied not to someone’s name or phone number!

Although companies claim they focus on patterns, the data they collect data can still identify individuals without consent.

One of the key arguments made by companies is that the data they collect is associated with a unique ID rather than someone’s name or phone number.

 They argue that this makes it impossible to identify a specific person based on the data alone. However, this argument overlooks the fact that anyone who has access to the raw data, including employees or clients, could potentially identify someone without their consent.

For example, someone with access to the data could follow someone they knew based on the location data collected by their phone. By pinpointing a smartphone app that regularly spent time at that person’s home address, they could easily identify who they were.

Alternatively, they could work in reverse, by attaching a name to an anonymous dot. By seeing where the device spent nights and using public records to figure out who lived there, they could easily identify the person behind the data.

The risk of data privacy violations is particularly high when the data is collected by third-party apps. Many apps collect data even when they are not in use, and users may not be aware of the data they are sharing with these apps. In some cases, users may be required to grant permission to access their location or other personal information to use the app. However, they may not realize that the app is collecting additional information without their consent.

To address these concerns, many countries have implemented strict data privacy laws that require companies to obtain explicit consent from users before collecting any personal data. These laws also require companies to disclose how they will use the data they collect and provide users with the option to opt out of data collection altogether. Additionally, companies that do collect personal data must take steps to protect the information they collect and to prevent it from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.

To address these concerns, companies need to be transparent about the data they collect, get explicit consent from users, and take steps to protect the personal information they collect. Only in this way can we ensure that our data is used responsibly and ethically.

According to The Times, the companies’ explanations given to users when they are asked to grant permission to access their personal information are often unclear or incomplete. 

For instance, most apps may state that allowing access to the user’s location will help them get traffic or engagement updates, but fail to mention whether the data will be shared or sold to third parties or not. This critical information is often hidden in a vague privacy policy and can be difficult for users to find.

Geo-location information can reveal some of the most intimate details of a person’s life — whether you’ve visited a dentist, whether you went to attain night party, whether you preferred to buy some clothes, who you might date, everything is tracked by apps admin panel. And they design a personalized campaign according to your shopping behavior. But up to this limit may be considerable. But if you sell your user’s data to a third party or any malpractitioner can breach those data from your database. That could be a red flag.

Senator Ron Wyden, a senior United States senator Democrat from Oregon, has introduced bills to restrict the unregulated collection and sale of data in the United States.

He added that it is unfair to keep consumers in the dark about how their data is sold and shared, and then leave them powerless to do anything about it.

How to Protect Yourself from Location Tracking Apps?

With the increasing concerns surrounding location tracking by apps, it’s important to take steps to safeguard your privacy. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to avoid these issues and regain control over your location data.

To protect your privacy mitigate the risks associated with tracking apps, and prevent you from falling into the Dark Side of Mobile Apps, you need to consider the following steps:

  • Review App Permissions: Take the time to review the permissions requested by apps on your device. Be mindful of granting unnecessary permissions, especially those related to location tracking.
  • Delete Unnecessary Apps: The first and most explicit security measure is to delete unnecessary apps from your devices. Both Apple and Android devices allow you to view the applications to which you have granted location access. By assessing these settings, you can identify which apps track your location continuously and which do so only when the app is open. If you find any apps that you no longer use or feel uncomfortable with their level of location tracking, don’t hesitate to delete them.
  • Limit Location Sharing: Change the location settings on your device to allow apps to access your location only when they are being actively used, rather than allowing continuous tracking.

When using apps that request location access, it’s essential to exercise caution and consider your privacy requirements. Often, users are presented with a false choice: either agree to continuous tracking or receive persistent reminders. It’s important to remember that you have the right to decline the app’s location requests if you don’t see a genuine need for it. By declining unnecessary location access requests, you can maintain control over your privacy. Additionally, consider disabling notifications from these apps so that you won’t be constantly reminded to enable location tracking.

  • Regularly Audit Apps: After short intervals review your used smartphone apps which are installed on your smart device. Remove any that you no longer use or that have questionable data collection practices.
  • Educate Yourself: Stay informed about the data collection practices of the apps you use. Familiarize yourself with their privacy policies and opt for alternatives that prioritize user privacy.


While tracking apps may seem innocent and convenient at first glance, it is crucial to recognize the potential privacy risks they pose. Data collection practices by these apps, often without explicit consent, can lead to the misuse and exploitation of personal information.

 Additionally, tracking apps can be used as tools for abuse and control in certain circumstances. By staying informed, reviewing permissions, and actively managing your privacy settings, you can protect yourself and mitigate potential risks associated with tracking apps.

To mitigate the risks of being tracked or having personal data exposed, lower the threats by disabling location services, managing mobile apps, restricting Ad tracking, preventing image hacking, and enabling privacy settings in your device’s browser. We, at Maven Technology, a leading Mobile Application Development firm, shared this article to raise public awareness.

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