Some location data analytics companies, including Foursquare, recently announced that they are restricting the use, sharing and sale of data on consumer visits to sensitive locations such as reproductive health clinics. But law enforcement agencies with warrants can still obtain such location records.
The phone carriers that operate the backbone of wireless Internet for smartphones have remained silent about plans to revise data policies after the reversal of Rowe Wade. AT&T, T-Mobile and CTIA, a trade group representing the carriers, declined to comment, and Verizon’s chief revenue officer Frank Boulben said the company had nothing new to announce.
For now, those looking to obscure their digital tracks have limited options. Here what they are.
surveillance self defense
A number of tools can be employed to tackle surveillance, including virtual private networks, encrypted messaging apps, private web browsers and burner email accounts, civil liberties groups and privacy experts.
virtual Private Network
What it does: A VPN creates a virtual tunnel that shields browsing information from the Internet service provider. When people use VPN software, their device connects to a VPN provider’s servers. All their web traffic passes through the VPN provider’s internet connection. So if their Internet provider was trying to listen in on their Web traffic while 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 the cellular network. That’s because a device has to be registered in a nearby cell tower before it can connect to the VPN, which will reveal the device location to the phone carrier, Mr. Aren said.
What it does: When a message is encrypted through a chat service like Apple’s iMessage, Meta’s WhatsApp, or Signal, it’s scrambled when sent so that it’s not understandable to anyone but its intended recipient, and it persists even when it passes through the app’s servers and reaches the recipient .