Apple’s decision to be much more proactive in alerting users to iOS 13 background location tracking has resulted in a 68% decrease in apps-collected location data. With many people now hearing about the existence of commercial location-tracking databases the topic has also seen greater media attention.
iOS has long given users control over whether and when an app can track your location, but iOS 13 introduced two updates that made users much more aware of the problem.
Next, when an app uses location tracking in the background, iOS 13 periodically triggers a pop-up that reminds the user that this permission has been granted, and provides the option to turn it off.
Second, we now have the option of allowing an app to request permission whenever it wishes to access our location.
Google also followed suit in Android 10, with similar privacy protections.
Fast Company reports that the combination of these two things resulted in a 68% drop in background location tracking and a 24% drop in foreground tracking (when an app is open).
App developers were able to monetize your location data by letting advertisers serve ads based on the location. This allows them to promote local outlets, or to push offers on nearby products sold.
The piece says they can still do this with your IP address, but this will provide a less reliable, granular location.
Nevertheless, more and more people choose to use VPN services, especially when using public Wi-Fi hotspots. This protect users from man-in – the-middle attacks from fake hotspots, with the added advantage of shielding our location: wherever the VPN server is located, the location advertisers see. The days of tracking background location may be numerated as useful to advertisers.