This week, a security researcher discovered that the iOS app from AccuWeather can collect location data for users even when they have location sharing for the application disabled. Moreso, AccuWeather has a deal with Reveal Mobile, a company that can monetize such data, and the company has the ability to track user locations via Wi-Fi locations and device MAC addresses.
The reveal about Reveal is causing some users to delete the app, or at least question why AccuWeather is giving access to that information. But whatever AccuWeather’s intentions are, it’s a good reminder that a company doesn’t need access to the GPS functions of your smart phone or other devices to figure out where you are. By using the location of Wi-Fi routers you’re access and publicly available data, your location can be spotted and tracked even if you specifically turn off location/GPS services for an app. And it’s not the same as allowing an app to continue tracking you in the background when you’re not using that.
Update, 8/24: AccuWeather says it has updated its iOS app to address these concerns.
Every week, we’ll define a tech term, offer a timely tip or answer questions about technology from readers. Email email@example.com with questions or topic suggestions.
News on Open Source is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of 512tech.com comes with an American-Statesman digital subscription, which also includes myStatesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe at statesman.com/subscribe.