Mobile Phone Location
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If Android Emergency Location Service (ELS) works in your country or region and on your mobile network, and you haven't turned ELS off, your phone will automatically send its location to first responders through ELS. If ELS is off, your mobile carrier might still send the device's location during an emergency call or text.
Background: Smartphones offer the hope that depression can be detected using passively collected data from the phone sensors. The aim of this study was to replicate and extend previous work using geographic location (GPS) sensors to identify depressive symptom severity.
Methods: We used a dataset collected from 48 college students over a 10-week period, which included GPS phone sensor data and the Patient Health Questionnaire 9-item (PHQ-9) to evaluate depressive symptom severity at baseline and end-of-study. GPS features were calculated over the entire study, for weekdays and weekends, and in 2-week blocks.
Results: The results of this study replicated our previous findings that a number of GPS features, including location variance, entropy, and circadian movement, were significantly correlated with PHQ-9 scores (r's ranging from -0.43 to -0.46, p-values < .05). We also found that these relationships were stronger when GPS features were calculated from weekend, compared to weekday, data. Although the correlation between baseline PHQ-9 scores with 2-week GPS features diminished as we moved further from baseline, correlations with the end-of-study scores remained significant regardless of the time point used to calculate the features.
Store recent location is encrypted at rest using your Google Account password for security. Other data that Find My Device collects is encrypted in transit. You can delete all devices and their locations through the Find My Device app.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Anomaly Six collects location data from hundreds of millions of mobile phones via more than 500 mobile apps and provides global location data to U.S. government agencies.
Occasionally, stories illuminate just how invasive this industry can be. In 2020, Motherboard reported that X-Mode, a company that collects location data through apps, was collecting data from Muslim prayer apps and selling it to military contractors. The Wall Street Journal also reported in 2020 that Venntel, a location data provider, was selling location data to federal agencies for immigration enforcement.
But unbeknownst to most users, some of those apps sell or share location data about their users with companies that analyze the data and sell their insights, like Advan Research. Other companies, like Adsquare, buy or obtain location data from apps for the purpose of aggregating it with other data sources. Companies like real estate firms, hedge funds and retail businesses might then turn and use the data for their own advertising, analytics, investment strategy, or marketing purposes.
There are a whole slew of potential buyers for location data: investors looking for intel on market trends or what their competitors are up to, political campaigns, stores keeping tabs on customers, and law enforcement agencies, among others.
Data from location intelligence firm Thasos Group has been used to measure the number of workers pulling extra shifts at Tesla plants. Political campaigns on both sides of the aisle have also used location data from people who were at rallies for targeted advertising.
The Wall Street Journal and Motherboard have also written extensively about how federal agencies including the Internal Revenue Service, Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. military bought location data from companies tracking phones.
Sherman, of the Duke Tech Policy Lab, published a report in August finding that data brokers were advertising location information on people based on their political beliefs, as well as data on U.S. government employees and military personnel.
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