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TIP: How to Stop Wi-Fi Hotspot Tracking

October 15, 2019

 

Hi Guys, 

 

I am reposting a blog post written by the great Bruce Schneier. The message is clear -  Turn off  Wifi when you are not using it. 

 

Please let me know if you need any advice on how do do this.

 

Thanks,

 

Max Roberts

Incognito Privacy Care

 

_____

 

 

Free Wi-Fi hotspots can track your location, even if you don't connect to them. This is because your phone or computer broadcasts a unique MAC address.

What distinguishes location-based marketing hotspot providers like Zenreach and Euclid is that the personal information you enter in the captive portal­ -- like your email address, phone number, or social media profile­ -- can be linked to your laptop or smartphone's Media Access Control (MAC) address. That's the unique alphanumeric ID that devices broadcast when Wi-Fi is switched on.

As Euclid explains in its privacy policy, "...if you bring your mobile device to your favorite clothing store today that is a Location -- ­and then a popular local restaurant a few days later that is also a Location­ -- we may know that a mobile device was in both locations based on seeing the same MAC Address."

MAC addresses alone don't contain identifying information besides the make of a device, such as whether a smartphone is an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy. But as long as a device's MAC address is linked to someone's profile, and the device's Wi-Fi is turned on, the movements of its owner can be followed by any hotspot from the same provider.

"After a user signs up, we associate their email address and other personal information with their device's MAC address and with any location history, we may previously have gathered (or later gather) for that device's MAC address," according to Zenreach's privacy policy.

The defense is to turn Wi-Fi off on your phone when you're not using it.

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