Are Mobile GPS Location apps a convenience or a danger?

GPS location services add a lot of convenience and utility to your smartphones and other mobile devices. Location-based shopping and travel in unfamiliar neighborhoods has made life much easier and more convenient.

The location data stored in your device or transmitted to and from databases can be easily tracked and this can be a major convenience or a serious danger to the user. Cyberstalkers are everywhere. Some are thieves and burglars but the most dreaded cyberstalkers are predators looking for their next victims.

Privacy experts say all mobile users should disable location tracking unless they are actively using an app, like a map program giving them directions. “I generally disable location services except for specific apps at specific moments, such as I’m trying to use Google maps to find a specific place,” said Hanni M. Fakhoury, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

They also advise strongly against allowing social media posts to include location. It’s not just the obvious risks of publishing the fact that you may be far from home, offering an invitation to burglars. It is also the cumulative impact of thousands of little details about your associations, your beliefs, your habits — your life being available to the skilled searchers.

There is also the reality, illustrated by the ongoing revelations from former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, that government agencies can and do get access to online activity of individuals. With location tracking, that means not only sites they visited, posts they made or emails they sent. It also means where they went, who else might have been there, how long they stayed and reams of other information.

So you need to use location services wisely and ONLY when they are needed.  TURN THEM OFF in your SETTINGS menu when you’re not actively using them.