Can the police track your location?

Location data: convenient feature or surveillance?

The most important information about location data in a nutshell

  • Location data are location-based informationthat can be collected and used by mobile devices.
  • With extensive storage, Movement profiles even with anonymized location data can be created with which certain people can be identified.
  • The Location history can be deactivated. Location services should only be activated when required.

What is location data?



Location data are Information about the localization of a userthat arise when using a mobile phone. Since they are taken together, for example in the form of a movement profile, make a specific person identifiable, even if they are anonymized, they are usually counted as personal data.

With smartphones, the location of the user can be determined very precisely. Mainly this will be Cellular networks, Bluetooth, WLAN or GPS is used, the latter offering the highest accuracy. As a rule, the collection of location data can be deactivated in the settings.

Not only smartphones generate location data. A cell phone can also reveal its location more or less precisely. This is done by making it yourself connects to a cell to dial into the cellular network. Although this does not determine the exact location, it is at least known in which radio cell the device is located.

The Cell interrogation is a controversial method used by law enforcement agencies such as the police, more detailed information on suspects to win. It is regulated in Section 100g (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

What is location data used for?

Location data form the basis for location-based services, so-called location-based services (LBS). An obvious example of this are offers that are used for navigation and orientation, such as Google Maps. Based on the position, further information such as nearby restaurants can then be called up.

Another widespread application is location-based ads, i.e. advertising that is based on the location data and can thus target people in the vicinity of certain points.

The long-term collection and evaluation is usually done with the aim of Recognize regularities and so on the one hand to offer faster suggestions and on the other hand the Tailoring advertising more precisely to the interests of the person.

What's the problem with that?

The use of location data is practical because it makes it more convenient in many situations. But at the same time it can also have problematic aspects.

Location data for monitoring can be used. If information about the position is continuously collected, a person can be completely localized. This persecution threatens not only from the government, but above all from corporations such as Apple or Google, which collect a huge amount of location data about their users.

Even if this data is subjected to an anonymized evaluation, it can still be Draw conclusions about the specific person. Because on the basis of the collected location data you can Motion profiles which create an exact picture of a person's everyday life.

In this way, places that are often visited by this person can be identified. Assuming a certain regularity then even can the stay at certain points in time in the future is extrapolated become.

How can I see my location data?

If you want to keep control of what information is in circulation about you and where it is, you should get one first Get an overview of the stored data and display its location data.

Location data on an Android smartphone

Anyone who owns a smartphone with the Android operating system sends its location data to Google. But even if you don't use Android but use the Google Maps app, you can find it here.

If you are logged into your Google account, you can view your activities under “My Account” in the “Personal Data & Privacy” section. You can find yours here Location history displayed as a timeline in Google Maps.

If you now feel the desire to stop the pursuit of all your paths in the future, you can Deactivate the location history under the activity settings. It is also a good idea to have the location data on the smartphone to be activated only if necessary and not leave it on permanently.

Apple: location data on the iPhone

To the saved location data on iPhone To be able to read out or view, you have to go through the following steps in the settings of the device:

  • privacy
  • Location services
  • System services

There you will find the frequent or important places. This is a listing of all the places you have visited. Not only is it registered here, but also where you have been when exactly and for how long. In this way, patterns can be recognized, for example where someone regularly goes in the morning and where he usually spends the night.

Here you can not only see the history of the location data, but also the individual information or the entire information Delete data collection as well as the other Deactivate recording of locations.
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Location data: convenient feature or surveillance?
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