Is Your Privacy at Risk? How Fog Data Science Trades Location Data
What Is Fog Data Science?
Fog Data Science is a data broker company specializing in acquiring and selling location data. Fog Data Science compiles an extensive database of user location information by purchasing raw geolocation data collected by various smartphone and tablet applications. This collected data is then sold to advertisers, marketing companies, and law enforcement agencies. This allows them to serve targeted ads or access historical location data.
As a significant player in the data brokerage industry, Fog Data Science raises concerns about user privacy and the potential misuse of location data. By understanding the practices of companies like Fog Data Science, users can take steps to protect their privacy and limit the amount of location data they share.
How Does Fog Data Science Acquire Your Location Data?
Fog Data Science is a prominent data broker. It acquires raw location data from a wide range of smartphone and tablet applications, including popular and less-known apps. These programs continuously track the position of your device and sell that information to data brokers. The data brokers then use it for marketing to you.
What Is Fog Reveal?
Buying billions of data points from tens of thousands of mobile applications, Fog Data Science amasses a substantial amount of user geolocation data. It offers a subscription service called “Fog Reveal.” Law enforcement agencies can use Fog Reveal to look up latitude, longitude, timestamp, and device ID. Fog Reveal subscribers can run two types of queries: Area searches and Device searches. This subscription service is typically priced between $6,000 and $9,000. This model of subscription allows for 100 queries per month, with additional queries available for an extra fee. Authorities can also access a device’s historical location data from 2017.
Privacy Concerns With Fog Data Science
Although claiming to respect user privacy and not to collect data, Personally-Identifying Information (PII) like names, phone numbers, or email addresses, Fog Data Science does provide law enforcement access to years’ worth of historical location data for a particular device. This raises significant privacy concerns for users.
Protecting Yourself from Invasive Data Collection Practices
You can minimize the risk of collecting and selling the collected data and geolocation data by taking the following measures:
- Disable ad tracking and the mobile ad identification that goes along with it so that data brokers can’t connect any of the acquired data to your particular device.
- Limit the number of applications installed on your phone. Many apps collect excessive data not required for functionality (e.g., a puzzle game requesting your location).
- Disable location services globally on your phone. You can find instructions on how to do this online or in your device’s settings.
- If disabling location services globally is not feasible, consider disabling location services for specific apps that don’t require location data to function correctly.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that encrypts your internet traffic and hides your IP address. This makes it harder for companies to track your location.
- Many companies share your data with third-party advertisers. You can opt out of data sharing by going to the privacy settings of the app or website that you use.
Fog Data Science purchases raw geolocation data. Typically, the collected data is done from smartphone and tablet applications. They then sell it to data brokers, who sell it mainly to advertisers and marketers for individualized advertising. By being aware of these practices and taking necessary precautions, you can reduce the chances of collecting and selling your location data.