9 votes

How your movements create a GPS 'fingerprint'

(CNN) -- Can you be identified only by where you take your phone? Yes, according to a new study, which finds it's not very hard at all.

While most of us are free to go wherever we want, our daily and weekly movement patterns are pretty predictable. We go to work, to school, to church, to our neighborhood gym, grocery store or coffee shop, and we come home -- all quietly tracked by the GPS in our phone.


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it's a lot worse than you think


"All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind." - Khalil Gibran
"The Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame." - Chuang Tzu

deacon's picture


I don't own a cell phone

Leave an indelible mark on all of those that you meet.
OH... have fun day :)

Heck yeah!

I never have my GPS on for

I never have my GPS on for this precise reason.

"and the truth shall make you free"
John 8:32

It's Always Tracking You

If you have a newer smart phone. It can even track your location if your phone if it's turned off. If you truly don't want to be tracked, you would have to ditch your phone altogether or get an older/disposable phone.

Actually, if you take the

Actually, if you take the battery out of your smart phone then you cannot be tracked. (assuming the small amount of remaining internal energy is drained)

As for the disposable phones, same rules apply.
It is possible, even with burner phones, to listen in on the receiver/microphone, even if the phone is turned off. You have to take the battery out.

Michael Nystrom's picture


Thanks for posting.

While most of us are free to go wherever we want... We end up going the same damn places, doing the same damn things, seeing the same damn results, over and over again. Kind of funny in a way. It has to be funny, to divert from the sadness.

The conclusion of this study is not surprising, when you think of it. A pattern of going from your home, to the same workplace daily should be enough to identify you. The home would be the nexus. There would be trips to the grocery store, friends houses...

D'oh! now you've ratted out your friends and co-conspirators with your GPS enabled phone!

It's scary how many things can ID you

One that I've been caught by in the past is the supermarket loyalty card. Purchase information can be cross referenced with other data (maybe GPS data from your phone???) to profile you quite effectively.