Smartphones are tracking your every move

"Location Services" provide automatic GPS data for all iPhone and Android devices, unless you turn it off

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – For most of us, smartphones are the key to our world; they store photos, emails, contact, reminders, and personal information. But they also keep tabs on where we go.

“That definitely makes me uncomfortable. Because I don’t even know it’s happening,” said Ilyssa Burton of Buffalo.

She’s not alone, most people have no idea just how much they’re being tracked.

“Location Services” come automatically turned on for iPhone and Andriod devices; using GPS, your phone is constantly tracking your moves.


News 4 showed some Western New Yorkers proof of the tracking, by pulling up the detailed map on their devices, which shows everywhere they’ve been.

“I guess I’m shocked because I actually saw it just now, but I kind of always assumed that maybe it was a possibility because everything is so electronic now,” said Nicole Barden of Wheatfield.

“It’s in my opinion a pretty big invasion of privacy,” Molly Hlubin of Buffalo told News 4.

“Yeah, I was surprised. I guess I’m not that tech savvy,” said Marjorie Miller of Buffalo.

The one question that was on all their minds was “Why do phone companies do it?”

Frequent Locations Map on iPhone
Frequent Locations Map on iPhone

Cyber security expert, Professor Alan Katerinsky of Hilbert College, told News 4 GPS tracking started going in most phones by default after Sept. 11th.

“In an electronically connected society such as ours, everything you have that is for convenience, it costs you in privacy,” Katerinsky said.

Companies sell your information to try and customize advertisements based on your location.

“Progressive consumerism allows people to sell your position, so that ads can pop up on your phone. I’m downtown, there’s a famous bar that says ‘Oh we’ve got two-for-one drink specials,’ pops up on your phone when you go to see where you are,” he said.

Most people told News 4 they think the feature crosses a line.

“At some point, too much is too much. I mean, do you really want someone knowing where you are 24-7?” said Burton.

But some think it comes with the territory.

Frequent Locations by the minute
Frequent Locations by the minute

“I don’t think it’s surprising, I think it just sort of comes with the technology. Cell phones are meant to be cellular devices,” said Brandon Jonas of Buffalo.

“As long as you’re careful with it, you can’t escape it,” he continued.

Michele McNeese of Buffalo wasn’t too concerned either.

“Honestly it really doesn’t bother me. I’m not a ‘Big Brother’s watching me’ type of girl. I have nothing to hide,” she said.

Not only does your phone know your general location, it knows where you go most often, and exactly how much time you spend there.


The “Frequent Location” feature keeps track of your most-visited spots with blue little dots, tracking when you were there, down to the minute.

“I don’t feel like I’m very comfortable with it. I was unaware that it was happening,” said Miller.

News 4 showed the people we spoke with how to turn their “Location Services” option off.

Most of them couldn’t wait to deactivate it.

“Yeah, I don’t think people need to know where I am. And I feel like I’m pretty good about letting my friends and a family know where I am, so I don’t think that my cell phone needs to know as well,” Hlubin told News 4. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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