Many surprised by location tracking feature in iPhone OS

Many surprised by location tracking feature in iPhone OS
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Buried deep in your iPhone's settings lies a feature that tracks your every move. Many have no idea it's happening.

"That's uncomfortable!" Hailey Knight said.

"Oh my word, that's really scary!" Becky McDaniel Ewart told Region 8 News when we showed her the feature on her phone.

Apple advertises the feature as something to help learn places that are significant to you. If it isn't disabled, it lists locations you visit frequently such as work or home. It knows the date and exact time of your arrival and departure.

We took to the streets of downtown Jonesboro to see how many people knew about this feature that's over a year and a half old.

"I am very unsettled that they are...that they know your every move," Knight said.

The "frequent locations" feature rolled out with IOS 7 in September 2013. According to Apple, the feature helps your device and third party apps, like any maps you might use on your phone, to use information from cellular, WiFi, and GPS to determine your location.

While many we talked to knew their phone tracked them somehow, they oftentimes had no idea their phone actually tracks their every move.

"If it gives me the option 'allow' or 'don't allow,' I never allow my location to be listed," Shelby Knight told Region 8 News.

However, she was unaware simply clicking "don't allow" won't turn off her frequent locations feature.

"Oh, no, I did not know that," Knight said. "That's kinda scary!"

While it was eye-opening for some, others wanted the feature turned on. For Stephen Trotter, there are multiple benefits to location tracking. He said most importantly, it helps him keep tabs on his family.

"Our family, we have Find My iPhone turned on and we have our iPhones, iPads, everything turned on and so at a glance, at any device, I can tell where my whole family is," Trotter said.

It also helps him snag deals and coupons by letting third-party apps access his specific location.

"I know that they're sharing that information and so, it's just something that I accept in order to use those services," Trotter said.

For many, it's who the information is being shared with that has them on edge.

"All of this information about who you are, where you go, what locations you frequent, those are being sold to advertising firms, large corporations that might be interested in your personal data," attorney Rob Sanders said.

Even more terrifying for some, is knowing that others could get ahold of your frequent locations or learn your daily routine.

"They could figure out where you are right this moment and be like, 'Oh! well, they're not home,' and if they figure out this is prime opportunity you become a target," Jayden West said.

"They can harm you personally if somebody wants to harm you they can stake out your place of business or anywhere you frequent," Sanders said.

To turn off your iPhone's location services, click here for a visual step-by-step guide.

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