Some location data analytics companies, including Foursquare, recently announced that they are restricting the use, sharing and sale of data about consumer visits to sensitive locations such as reproductive health clinics. But warrant law enforcement agencies can still obtain such location data.
The phone companies that control the backbone of the wireless internet for smartphones were mothering about plans to change data policies after Roe v. Wade’s turnaround. AT&T, T-Mobile and CTIA, a trade group that represents the airlines, declined to comment, and Frank Boulben, Verizon’s chief revenue officer, said the company had nothing new to report.
For now, those who want to hide their digital tracks have limited options. This is what they are.
Surveillance Self Defense
Several tools can be used to combat surveillance, including virtual private networks, encrypted messaging apps, private web browsers and burner email accounts, civil liberties groups and privacy experts said.
Virtual private network
What it does: A VPN creates a virtual tunnel that shields browsing information from an Internet service provider. When people use VPN software, their device connects to the servers of a VPN provider. All their web traffic goes through the VPN provider’s internet connection. So if their ISP tried to eavesdrop on their web traffic while they were browsing the Planned Parenthood website, the provider would only see the internet address of the VPN server connected to the VPN service.
What it doesn’t do: A VPN does not hide a device’s location from a cellular network. That’s because a device must register with a nearby cell tower before it connects to the VPN, which would reveal the device’s location to the phone company, Mr. Eren said.
What it does: When a message is encrypted through a chat service like Apple’s iMessage, Meta’s WhatsApp, or Signal, it gets scrambled when sent so it’s undecipherable by anyone but the intended recipient, and stays that way when it’s passed through the app’s server. goes and reaches the receiver.