How your smartphone is tracking your location to be sold on for profit

93% of people in the UK have opted into location tracking

One major data-breach could expose swathes of the UK’s population to criminals, privacy campaigners have warned.

As many as 93% of all smartphones used in Britain are tracking their user’s location, and collecting enough information to build up detailed information that reveals movements, habits and interests.

The highly detailed information is collected by mobile service providers and sold on to third parties.

Campaigners argue that a data breach could provide criminals with enough information to target people and empty homes as the data can reveal routines.

The information collected can be enough to work out gender, sexual orientation and religion as well as where users are and where they are likely to be going. This also affords criminals increasing opportunities for blackmail, campaigners say.

Research by campaign groups Krowdthink and Securious found that 93% of UK citizens had opted into location tracking which allows constant tracking of location, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The research also found that consumers were not being given enough information about operators having unlimited access to their whereabouts.

Krowdthink founder Geoff Revell said: “Effectively consumers are opting in to being location tracked by default.

“The fact of the matter is your mobile service provider knows – without you knowing – where you are, how you got there and can figure out where you are going.”

Securious founder Pete Woodward said this kind of data would be “gold dust” to criminals.

He added: “The information that mobile and Wi-Fi service providers hold on location tracking is an evolving and high-risk area of cybercrime that needs urgent attention by the industry.

“Otherwise we will face the frightening prospect that such highly sensitive data could get into the hands of the likes of kidnappers and paedophiles.”

Mobile phone operators anonymise their data before it is sold on, however, it is easy to cross reference the collected data with other resources, such as the electoral role, to work out exactly who is who, according to separate research by the Open Rights Group.

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