Apple’s privacy rules can’t stop wireless carriers from tracking users

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It’s not possible to prevent your carrier tracking you, not if you want your iPhone to work. But you may be able to limit what the company does with that data.

The entire purpose of cell or mobile phones is that you can be reached wherever you are. That means your carrier has to be able to make your phone ring regardless of where you happen to be, so therefore the carrier has to be able to track where you are in the world at any given moment.

Then the reason it’s called a cell phone is that the way the system works is through very many small regions, or cells, which are serviced by a transmitter. So maybe a carrier can’t spot when you’ve, say, turned left on Fifth Avenue, but it will know when you cross 55th street.

More, all carriers track how much data you’re using because you’re paying them for it. To an extent, they have to know what that data is, too, because you might be on a deal that gets you, say, video streaming, for free.

A new report by Inc. magazine claims that all of this is an invasion of privacy because Verizon, for one example, did not ask permission to track.

It’s really implicit in the act of using the device, unless you go Wi-Fi only and use FaceTime calls.

Nonetheless, it is true that this is one element of tracking that Apple’s privacy moves cannot govern. And it’s also true that carriers can, and do, sell tracking data.

What you can do is disallow what information, derived from tracking your position and data usage, is sold on.

Whichever carrier you use, you’ll either be able to set this up through its iOS app, or by logging in to your account on the company’s website. Depending on the carrier, you may get the option for both, but regardless of which carrier is involved, none of them are going to rush to show you the privacy options.

Nonetheless, they are there, and you can specify that you don’t, for instance, agree to something like “Business and Marketing Insights” being derived from your usage and sold to advertisers.

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