What you need to know about Location Data in 2021

Ki James
Ki James
October 7th, 2021

Recently, a report was released that found that over 11 billion dollars were spent in 2020 on the “location intelligence” industry. These are people who extract marketing data, security threats, and large-scale group behavior based on the location and movements of individuals as tracked by their phones.

Even though this is such a massive industry, very few Americans seem to be aware that this information is being used nefariously at all. That raises the question - why wants to know where you are, why, and how do I stop it if it’s even actually bad?

What companies want this information?

This may be a massive industry, but it’s important to put specific names to this amorphous conglomerate of capital. Here’s just a short list of the companies that are extracting and selling the location data from your phone.

  • Mapinfo Pro
  • Geoblink
  • Esri ArcGIS
  • Maptive
  • GapMaps
  • Carto
  • Xtract.io

It’s likely that you’ve never heard of any of these companies. Despite this, they sell billions of dollars worth of information to the following industries, in order of most profitable to least.

  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance
  • Retail & Consumer Goods
  • IT & Telecommunications
  • Media & Entertainment
  • Manufacturing & Industrial
  • Government & Defence
  • Utilities & Energy

How are companies using this information

The way different companies will use your location data will vary depending on their industry. While a transportation company may want to know where to allocate more busses, taxis, etc,, a Retail company may want to find out what shopping centers get the most foot traffic.

Whatever the case may be, at any given moment, your phone is streaming data to these people, who take it without your knowledge, sell it for reasons you can’t be sure of, to profit off of it in ways you don’t know. The sheet number of unknowns here should be extremely alarming.

How can I stop this from happening?

We’ve previously written an article where we walk you through how to disable location sharing on an iOS device. This will prevent these companies from grabbing this data, and keep you more secure and private.

In the near future, we’ll write an article about how to do the same on Android.

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