There are apps on your smartphone that track your location. That’s not breaking news. But, do you know just how often these apps are homing in on your exact location? A new study found that your apps could be tracking you every three minutes, even when you’re not currently using them.
Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University found that dozens of popular Android apps collected device location (including GPS coordinates accurate to within 50 meters) an average of 6,200 times, or about every three minutes during a two-week study period, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The study found that Android apps like Groupon and The Weather Channel app requested your coordinates even when they didn’t need that information to function properly.
The study monitored 23 Android users and tracked location information requests using software downloaded onto their phones. In just one week, the Groupon app requested location information one participant over 1,000 times. Why is that information so important? It’s likely that app developers are selling it to advertisers who want to use it to send you location-based ads.
In previous research, [study co-author Norman M.] Sadeh and his fellow researchers found that when an app is asking for your location, 73% of the time it shares that information with an advertising network. That’s something many people are likely not aware of when they give an app permission to access their location.
The study didn’t look at iOS users because they can control permissions for each app individually and disable location tracking if they wish on a case-by-case basis.