Inspired by the question How does Google know where I am?.

If someone has a smartphone and uses it (it is switched on), is there any way in which s/he can surely prevent Google (or Apple, Microsoft, or whoever has created the operating system) from knowing very accurately where s/he is? This answer explains how Google knows — can an ordinary user stop Google from knowing? If yes, how?


Yes - disable ALL networking (Mobile, WiFi, Bluetooth, ...)!

You can still make calls and use SMS. But beware of ever turning networking back on, because depending on your settings the phone might log where you have been and then upload that into the "cloud".

But that's not really practical. The most reasons why people want a smartphone require internet access.

There is a complete open-source Android called Replicant. This wouldn't allow Google to track you, but is still not completely open. It is probably the best you can get at the moment, but it supports very few (older) devices and is far from complete.

edit: And of course remember that while Google/Apple/Microsoft won't be able to track you, your mobile provider always can. And because of various SS7 insecurities, probably everyone else on the planet who cares can also track your location at cell level if he has your number, IMSI,IMEI,...

  • That's pretty close to not using a smartphone at all (can use a classic dumbphone / feature phone instead).
    – gerrit
    Sep 26 '16 at 10:40
  • 2
    That's true, but that's how it is. There is a reason that for example Richard M. Stallman always refers to smartphones as "mobile tracking devices". Sep 26 '16 at 10:50
  • Yes, of course any transmitting device can fundamentally be tracked.
    – gerrit
    Sep 27 '16 at 22:31
  • Well yes, but if your provider hasn't properly secured the SS7 network, your cellphone can tracked by anyone who can cough up a few hundred dollars a month to buy SS7 access from an shady operator. That's way easier than for example triangulate the location of an ham radio operator using expensive equipment. Sep 28 '16 at 7:32

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