For iOS7 and 8.
SECTION 1: Introduction.
In order to display customized text to meet your needs VoiceoverEasy.net needs to know if you want to learn about iPhones or iPads.
DeviceNumber = -1
DeviceType = iOS Device
Privacy in the digital age is a complex issue, and this lesson is not intended to be a comprehensive study of the topic. There are entire books written for that. . Instead, this lesson provides an overview with these objectives:
- To provide sufficient background information about digital privacy so you can make your own decisions about the risks and benefits of how you use your iOS Device.
- To help you understand how your actions affect your privacy.
- To explain what settings are available on your iOS Device to help you maintain the level of privacy that is right for you.
1.1: Before you Continue.
Please be advised that No one at VoiceOverEasy.net is an internet or cellular security expert. So links to information sources used in compiling this lesson are scattered throughout the lesson to help you form your own opinions. There are also some additional sources cited where you can do your own research. VoiceOverEasy.net is not responsible for the content of external web pages, nor should links to these pages be considered an endorcement of any products or ads found there.
1.2: What Privacy Options Should I Implement?
There is no right answer to this question. Many Privacy settings will be discussed below. You must choose the ones which are right for you based on your needs and lifestyle, and by weighing the convenience of the services you use against the usage data being collected.
SECTION 2: Terms You Should Know.
2.1: Internet Protocol (IP) Address.
By now you have probably noticed that when you look in your recent calls list, the numbers belonging to people in your contacts list show up as names instead. When you pick a name or tell Siri to call your best friend, your iOS Device translates that to the phone number and makes the connection. The same thing happens on the internet. Each computer, smart phone or other device on the internet has an IP Address, which is the internet version of a phone number. For example, 220.127.116.11, is the IP Address of VoiceOverEasy.net. When you ask for "VoiceOver-Easy.net," yourcomputer or iOS Device looks up the IP address and connects you. The device you're reading this web page from also has an IP address. It's 18.104.22.168. Just like a phone number, this IP address can often be traced to a specific geographic location.
Metadata is any information about your celll phone call, email message, web browsing or other electronic exchanges, except the contents of those exchanges. It sounds harmless enough, but metadata can reveal much about you to those with access to it. Even if everything you do is legal, people can infer much from your metadata that you might not wish them to know.
If you are calling from a cell phone, examples of metadata would include the date and time of the call, the duration of the call, the party you called, and where you were when you made the call. This metadata can paint a detailed picture of your lifestyle and routines. Let's look at some examples.
- Your Metadata shows you talked on an Alcoholics Annonymous hotline for 20 minutes from a bar near the office during your lunch hour.
- Your metadata shows you spoke with a psychologist, then called a pharmacy, then drove to the pharmacy and were there for 10 minutes before going home.
- Your metadata shows that for half an hour you were speaking with someone at a phone sex hotline.
Metadata for emails includes the sender, recipient addresses, size of the email, subject, date and time sent, location where the email was sent and read, and internet routing information. What might you infer from this data?
- 15 emails were sent from Judy's IP address to organizations about eating disorders.
- Stanreceives daily messages from Abercrombie & Fitch, while Gary receives daily emails from Walmart.
- Kyle receives messages daily from job placement agencies.
Some samples of Metadata generated when you browse the web include; What pages you visited and when, your IP Address, hardware information, browser version, operating system, your search queries, and the pages yu visited from them.
- Tom browsed 30 web sites about guns in the last two weeks.
- Sally has been spending 4 hours a day at dating sites.
- Brenda is on the web every night from 10 pm to 2 am.
- John is using an older version of his web browser and an old version of iOS, which means he is vulnerable to certain methods of attack.
An understanding of Metadata and what it can reveal is crucial to helping you decide what privacy settings are right for you. An excellent, though somewhat lengthy, Canadian research paper called Metadata and Privacy - A Technical and Legal Overview provides a very detailed, but not too technical analysis of the uses companies and governments can put metadata to, and how court decisions all over the world relate to it.
According to SurfTheNetSafely.com "Internet cookies are small pieces of information in text format that are downloaded to your computer when you visit many Web sites. The cookie may come from the Web site itself or from the providers of the embedded advertising banners or other graphics that make up a Web page. Thus visiting a single Web site can actually result in the downloading of multiple cookies, each from a different source. You may never actually visit a page of one of the major advertising agencies like Doubleclick.com but you will still get cookies from them."
While cookies cannot contain viruses or malware, they can be used to track your browsing habits. Let's say for example that you have been looking at multiple web sites to find kitchen appliances. Suddenly you see more ads for kitchen appliances popping up as you browse. This is probably the result of a tracking cookie.
SECTION 3: Cellular calls, SKYPE and FaceTime.
You should not assume that any cellular call is private. In addition, keep sensitive information out of your SKYPE and FaceTime sessions and NEVER transmit video , sound recordings or pictures of yourself that you wouldn't want Mom to see or hear.
3.1: Cellular calls
governments and well funded criminal organizations have sophisticated techniques to intercept cell phone calls. The Legalities of these interceptions are still being defined in many countries. In those countries where carriers use strong encryption to protect your calls, you are reasonably safe from more casual hackers plucking your calls out of the air, but the carriers in many countries use older, weak encryption which is not as secure. Some carriers don't encrypt the transmissions at all. You will need to do research in your area to find out which applies to you. The risk of someone coming after your calls is probably very low, but it is not zero. You may want to keep this in mind as you have your conversations. However, don't forget that many people world wide use cell phones every day.
We may access, disclose and preserve your personal information, including your private content (such as the content of your instant messages, stored video messages, voicemails or file transfers), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to:
- comply with applicable law or respond to valid legal process from competent authorities, including from law enforcement or other government agencies (or to assist our local partner, operator or company facilitating your communication to do the same);
- protect our customers, for example to prevent spam or attempts to defraud users of the services, or to help prevent the loss of life or serious injury to anyone;
- operate and maintain the security of our services, including to prevent or stop an attack on our computer systems or networks; or
- e rights or property of Skype and Microsoft, including enforcing the terms governing the use of products. However, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our products to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property of Skype or Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves, but we may refer the matter to law enforcement.
From the above statement it could be inferred that SKYPE sessions are stored somewhere in a format that is either unencrypted, or can be unencrypted. Is it likely that your sessions will be targeted? Probably not, but it seems to be possible. Also there is no indication of how long these sessions might be stored.
3.3: FaceTime and iMessages.
FaceTime is a way to have video chats between your iOS Device and another Apple device similar to SKYPE. Below is an excerpt from Apple's built in privacy page as of 5/10/2015.
iMessage and FaceTime
Your iMessages and FaceTime calls are your business, not ours. Your communications are protected by end-to-end encryption across all your devices when you use iMessage and FaceTime, and with iOS 8 and Watch OS your iMessages are also encrypted on your device in such a way that they can’t be accessed without your passcode. Apple has no way to decrypt iMessage and FaceTime data when it’s in transit between devices. So unlike other companies’ messaging services, Apple doesn’t scan your communications, and we wouldn’t be able to comply with a wiretap order even if we wanted to. While we do back up iMessage and SMS messages for your convenience using iCloud Backup, you can turn it off whenever you want. And we don’t store FaceTime calls on any servers.
You may also want to check Apple's Web page on Government Information Requests.
3.4: Health and Medical Information.
Your iOS Device has a section for a Medical ID Profile where you can store emergency medical information such as medical conditions and medicines for first responders. The data in this profile can even be made visible from the locked screen. Although Apple doesn't share any of the medical ID profile data with third parties, the idea is to make the data quickly available to someone trying to help you in an emergency. Of course, that also makes the data easily available to others as well. Here are some things to think about before using the Medical ID Profile.
- Many first responders are not familiar with accessing this information on cell phones. They are trained first to look for a medical bracelet.
- If you use the Screen Curtain, the information will not be visible to a first responder, even if he or she knows how to access the information normally. Only someone who knows VoiceOver will be able to help them access it.
- If you allow access to the information from the locked screen, anyone who has access to your phone for about 15 seconds can read this highly personal information.
- If the information isn't accessible through the locked screen, then no one will be able to access the information unless they know your password. Not much help if you are unconcious or unable to respond.
In addition to the Medical ID Profile, the Health app gives you an easy-to-read dashboard of your health data such as; blood pressure readings, distance you've walked, calories you have eaten, heart rate, and so on. . Many health related apps can use this dashboard to give you a quick overview of your health. Apple places the following requirements on Application developers who write apps that can use the dashboard.
SECTION 4: Protecting Your Privacy.
4.1: Low Tech Approaches.
Protecting your privacy doesn’t always require hi tech software and a James Bond tool set. Here are some simple ways to prevent eavesdropping when using your iOS Device in a public place.
- Sometimes people simply look over your shoulder. Since most people with visual disabilities will not be able to detect this behavior, make it difficult for someone to try. This is especially important if you use the screen magnification. Sit with your back to a wall or someplace where no one can stand behind you.
- Your iOS Device has a “screen curtain” function which masks the display. If you don’t need to see the screen, use the Toggle Screen Curtain Gesture to change the setting to On.
- If you’re using Voice Over and your device starts speaking the letters of your password, slide your finger over other letters between the letters you enter. That will make it difficult for a listener to tell what letters you’re actually entering.
- Of course, it’s even easier to just use a pair of ear buds or headphones. Wired headphones are much more secure than wireless ones.
4.2: The Notification Center.
The notification center can display reminders, next destinations, today’s schedule and a host of other things even when the screen is locked. While this can be convenient, if your iOS Device is lost or stolen, whoever has it will be able to determine things about you and your schedule that you might not wish them to know. These could include where you will be at any given time, who you will be with, when your home might be unoccupied, and so on. If you wish, you can set your iOS Device to block display of certain notifications from the Locked Screen. This will be discussed in detail in an upcoming lesson on the Notifications Center.
SECTION 5: Location Services.
Location Services use Cellular, WiFi, Global Positioning System (GPS) networks, and Bluetooth to allow your iOS Device to share it's approximate location with any app or web site that you give it permission to. This is very convenient when you need directions to a particular place, or if you want to know what restaurants and other points of interest are in your area. However, there are many who have privacy concerns with making too much location data available.
Smart phones and tablets can go anywhere with their users. In fact, many users keep them on their person from the time they get up to the time they go to bed. Your device makes log entries of where it is. The entries are frequent, and very detailed. Location Services make this information available to Apple, and to third party applications. The information can then be used to target location specific ads to you, sold to other companies, or to simply track your movements. Because of this, it's important to read the privacy policies and terms of conditions ofApple and of any third party software sellers so you know what they will do with the information from Location Services. As we will see further on in this section, an app can use your data only if you have given it your permission.
All that being said, Let's take a quick look at some ways sharing this data can make your life more safe and convenient.
- Your iOS Device can share location data with the maps app to provide step by step walking or driving directions to a destination.
- Apps like Weather use location services to determine where you are so they can provide data on the weather in your area.
- Your iOS Device can calculate travel time to a meeting or event by using Location Services to determine your current location.
- The Health app uses location services to track how far you have walked.
- Your iOS Device can tell you about restaurants, gas stations with the cheapest gas, or any other points of interest near you.
- The Find My iOS Device uses location services to report your iOS Device's whereabouts if it is lost or stolen.
- When you place a emergency call to 911, these services always report your location. You cannot turn this feature off.
5.1: The Location Services Settings.
DeviceNumber = -1
DeviceType = iOS Device
At the top of the screen is an Action Row with a Back button in the upper left corner, and a Heading which reads as"Location Services."
Below the Action Row is a button which toggles Location Services On and Off. In order for the remaining settings to be effective, the button must be toggled to On.
5.2: Share My Location.
If you Explore down from the Location Services toggle button, you will find a label which tells you a little bit about location services. Below the label is the "Share My Location" button. It gives you access to the settings for this function. Go ahead and Activate it now.
The Share My Location Screen appears. Like most settings screens it has an Action Row at the top with a back button on the left and a heading on the right. Below this row is the Share My Location Toggle button. Press this button to toggle this feature on and off. When this feature is On, you can share your location, in reality the location of one of your iOS devices, in iMessages and the Find My Friends feature. This does not automatically start sharing your location. It just gives you the ability to do so from within those apps.
Below the toggle button is a button which allows you to select which of your iOS devices connected to your iCloud account you would like to use to indicate your location. If you only have one iOS device, don't worry about this setting. However, if you have two or more, say an iPad and an iPhone, you can decide which one you want your location report to be based on.
Below this button is another label, and below that is a list of all the people who you are sharing your location with at the current time.
When you are done with these settings, press the Back button to save them. You will be returned to the Location Services Screen. To share your location in an iMessage, you must send a message to the person you want to share your location with, and thenpress the details tab while the iMessage is displayed. You can start sharing from there.
5.3: Controling which Apps Have Access to Location Services.
From the Location Services Screen, Follow these steps.
- Find the "Share My Location" button and make it the Current Item.
- Either Explore down the screen from the button, or use the Next Item gesture. You will find a label which tells you weather or not this iOS Device is being used for sharing your location.
- Explore down a little further, or use the Next Item gesture again. VoiceOver says the name of an application followed by the words, "Requested Your Location in the past," and tells you when the app is allowed to use location services. Finally VoiceOver says, "Button."
This is the first in a column of buttons that correspond to each app installed on your iOS Device that has asked for Location data. An app won't appear until it asks permission to use your data. You can add or remove permission from any app in the list. The buttons will be arranged in alphabetical order.
- Press the button. A list of up to three possible options will appear depending on the app.
Table of Access Options for Location Services.
||This application is not allowed to access data on your location.
|While using the Application.
||Access to your location is available when you're actively using this app, or one of its features, in the foreground.
||Access to your location is available even when this app is in the background. Note that when this option is selected, the name of the button to change this setting will announce the approximate time the application last accessed your location.
- Use the Select gesture to choose the one you want.
- Once you have selected the option you want, Explore down the screen a litttle further. You will find a label that tells about the setting you've chosen, and why the application needs access to location services.
- Press the Back button to return to the Location Services Screen.
It takes some time, but you can go through each app in the list and set when, if ever, each app can access your location. How private you keep your location data is up to you. There's a trade off between convenience and privacy. If you go through each app, don't forget to check the label at the bottom of the options list that gives a brief statement as to why the app needs access to your location. It will help you make a more informed decision.
If you don't want to go through every app in the list, here are some you may want to pay attention to.
If your camera can access Location Services, then each photo you take will be tagged with its geo-location. So a picture of your home posted on the web could unintentionally provide the location of your home right down to the street address. VoiceOverEasy.net strongly recommends setting this feature to Never.
If you allow Safari to access your location data, then ANY web site has access to this data. Consider this carefully before you allow Safari access to this service. An Unscrupulous web site operator can misuse or sell the data. VoiceOverEasy.net recommends that you set this to Never
If you allow Siri to access Location Services, the location of your iOS Device is sent to Apple each time you make a request of Siri. This is to improve the accuracy and relevance of its response. You can turn this off, but you will not be able to ask Siri to "find a movie near me," or "Get directions to..." This is a case where privacy and convenience are at odds. You have to decide what's right for you.
5.4: System Services.
At the bottom of the list of applications that have the ability to access your location is a button called System Services. If you Press this button the System Services Screen appears. The screen has a Back button in the upper left corner, and a column of toggle buttons below it to toggle settings between Off and On.
In general, the settings on this screen will not affect performance. However, Apple uses Crowd Sourcing from its customers' iOS devices to improve its products and services. If you don't want to share data about your movements and how you use your iOS Devicewith Apple, you can turn most of these services off.
Cell Network Services: This sends data back to Apple about cell tower usage and congestion, which is analyzed to determine how you move between cell towers, what towers are being used the most, and which ones are overused. Turning this off should not affect your iOS Device’s performance.
Compass Calibration: If this setting is Off, the Compass Application will not work.
Find My iOS Device: This setting needs to be on in order for the Find My iOS Device to work. VoiceOverEasy.net recommends leaving this setting on.
Location Based Alerts: Your iOS Device uses your location to provide you with relevant alerts, such as location based reminders, alerts for your next appointment with built in travel time, and government/Amber alerts relative to your current location. If you turn this off, these features will stop working.
Location based iAds: This service sends the location, speed, and direction of movement of your iOS Device to Apple. This allows it to received ads targetted to the specific area you are in or moving through. For example, ads for restaurants near you, or store sales near you might appear. Turning this off does not stop you from getting ads. They just won't be specific to your location.
Popular Near Me: Apple will receive locational data about the Apps used on, and purchased for, your iOS Device in order to promote Apps to others in your area. Turning it off doesn't affect performance.
Motion Calibration and Distance: VoiceOverEasy.net was unable to find a description for the function of this setting.
Setting Time Zone: This allows your iOS Device to quickly determine the time zone you are in, sometimes before it even receives a cell signal. Turning this off will disable this capability.
Share My Location: VoiceOverEasy.net was unable to find a description of the function of this setting.
Spotlight Suggestions: When this feature is on, and you perform a spotlight search, your location, speed and direction of movement is sent to Apple along with the query. This helps Spotlight Search send more relevant responses based on your location. If you don't want this location data sent each time you use spotlight, you can turn this off. You might get less relevant results if you do. The choice is yours.
WiFi Networking:As people travel through an area with devices that have cellular connectivity, they also continuously receive WiFi signals. When this setting is on, their device reports their GPS location along with a unique identifier for the wireless network. When a device without GPS capability senses that WiFi network, their device will know where they are without using GPS. Toggling this off will stop sending that info to Apple, but your location can still be determined because of the information gathered by others.
Frequent Locations: Your iOS Device can remember the locations you spend the most time at and when you arrive or leave. So that it can give you quick traffic information for frequent and predictable destinations , when it thinks you are likely to start heading there. If you don’t need this or you don’t want anyone to have this information, you can turn this OFF, but your iOS Device will lose its ability to anticipate your movements and warn you about possible conditions on route. Pressing this button displays a screen which has a toggle button for this setting. If the setting has been on, you will see a list of the locations you have most frequently visited, and the number of time you visited. Use the Back button in the upper left corner to return to the System Services Settings Screen when you are through.
Diagnostics and Usage: You can choose to annonymously provide Apple with diagnostic and usage information to help improve their products. If you are uncomfortable sending this information, turn this setting off.
Share with App Developers: You can also turn this feature on to help App Developers to improve their apps by allowing Apple to share crash data as well as statistics about how their apps are used. If you are uncomfortable sending this information, turn this setting off.
Traffic: Monitors your geographic movement and interaction with cell towers in order to understand traffic patterns for the Maps program. In other words data from your iOS Device and many others in your area is combined to let the Maps application know about traffic congestion near you. You can turn this off and still get information from Maps about traffic conditions.
SECTION 6: Limiting Access to Data and Hardware..
Below the Location Services button on the Privacy Settings Screen is a column of buttons which allow you to review , modify, or rescind access to data on your iOS Device, such as; Contacts, Photos, and calendar data. Some of these buttons also control access to hardware, such as; Bluetooth, Camera and Microphone. The effects of the more sensitive of them are listed below.
Be very careful about allowing apps access to the microphone. An unscrupulous developer could record you without your knowledge. You can activate the Microphone button to see what apps have permission to the microphone and make changes. You can also see what apps have recently accessed the microphone.
6.1: Diagnostic Data
These settings determine whether or not your iOS Device sends diagnostic data to Apple. This is a very broad set of data on just about everything that happened to the device. Apple uses this data to improve product performance and diagnose bugs, but VoiceOverEasy.net was unable to determine exactly what is included in this data. You can turn this feature on or off. There is a setting in this option for whether or not to share diagnostic data with third party developers. At this time VoiceOverEasy.net recommends that you turn both features off.
At the bottom of the privacy screen is a button labeled "Advertising," which grants access to settings regarding what data is shared with advertisers. When you press it, the Advertising Screen appears.
Limited Ad Tracking.
Turn this setting on to limit the ways advertisers can track you. VoiceOverEasy.net has been unable to find a clear explanation of exactly how this works.
Reset Advertising ID.
Apple assigns each device an Advertising ID that advertisers can use to send targeted ads based on your interest and location to your iOS Device. Apple says this feature can’t be used to identify you personally, only your device. Over time data about the locations of the device is built up. So is data about web searches and other interests. Advertisers can then target ads to the advertising ID of the device. You can periodically reset this number to make them learn about your device all over again.
SECTION 7: Other Privacy Settings.
This section covers privacy settings found on other settings screens than the Privacy Screen.
To access these settings, Activate the Settings App and Select Safari from the Settings main menu. There are quite a few options under this screen. Only the ones which could impact your privacy are covered here.
At the top of the list is a heading which reads, "Search," followed by a button that reads, "Search Engine," followed by the name of the current search engine used by Safari. The default is Google. If you activate this button, a list of search engines appears. You can change the engine from Google to one of these. There is a search engine on the list called DuckDuckGo. Unlike Google, Bing and many others, DuckDuckGo does not keep any records of your search. If this is important to you, use the Select gesture to change the search engine to DuckDuckGo, and then press the Back button. VoiceOverEasy.net has not compared the features of DuckDuckGo to any of the other engines, only its stance on privacy.
Passwords and Auto fill.
The settings in this area allow your device to automatically fill in web forms with your contact information, automatically supply web site passwords, and auto fill out credit card information. By default all these settings are OFF. VoiceOverEasy.net STRONGLY recommends keeping the defaults, especially if you have chosen not to passcode protect your iOS Device. If you turn them on, anyone who gains access to your iOS Device and gets passed the Locked Screen would have full access to your private websites, such as your Facebook profile, bank account sites, and more. If you also store credit card data, they could make purchases without your knowledge. Of course, if you do not lock your iOS Device with a passcode or fingerprint, and you have this setting on, it's like hanging your house keys just outside your front door!
Do not Track.
If you do not want web sites to track information about you, you can turn this setting on. When you do, your iOS device will politely ask the web site not to track data on you. Unscrupulous or unaware web site developers will simply ignore this request, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
A cookie is a small file a web site can place on your computer or device to store information. Usually it’s used to remember the settings you have for a particular web page. The next time you visit the page, it checks for the cookie and sets itself up the way you left it. You can be tracked somewhat by cookies, but a cookie file cannot contain viruses. Below is a table that lists the four options available for this setting and their efects on Privacy and Performance.
Block Cookie Settings in iOS8
||Effect on Privacy.
||Effect on Performance.
||Safari doesn’t let any websites, third parties, or advertisers store cookies and other data on your iOS Device.
||Degraded. This may prevent some websites from working properly.
|Allow from current website only.
||Safari accepts cookies and website data only from the website you’re currently visiting.
||Minimal: Websites often have embedded content from other sources. Safari does not allow these third parties to place or access cookies or other data on your iOS Device.
|Allow from Web Sites I visit, Default.
||Safari accepts cookies and website data only from websites you visit. Safari uses your existing cookies to determine whether you have visited a website before.
||Minimal: Selecting this option helps prevent websites that have embedded content in other websites you browse from storing cookies and data on your iOS Device.
||Safari lets all websites, third parties, and advertisers store cookies and other data on your iOS Device.
||VoiceOverEasy.net does NOT recommend this setting!
Fraudulent Web Site Warning.
Apple maintains a list of web sites which are known or suspected to be phishing sites. To help protect your identity, you can leave this feature ON. If you do, the address of each web site you visit will be sent to Apple to check against the list, and you will be warned if necessary. If you don't want Apple to know what web sites you are visiting, you can turn this feature off.
Although this is not technically a Privacy setting, it's worth mentioning here. The Restrictions button is on the General menu of the Settings application. This button allows you to set restrictions on your iOS Device to certain apps and data. For example, if you get an iOS device for your child, you can block access to material the producers have labeled as violent or explicit. You can also block access to entire applications such as games. Select the “Settings” element from the home screen, then “General”, and finally “Restrictions.” The first time you access this screen, you will be asked to enter a passcode. This should be different then the passcode to unlock the device. Thereafter you will be asked to enter the code again to access the screen and update restrictions.
7.3: In Case of Emergency, (ICE).
iOS 8 offers an App called Health. You can find it on the Home Screen. There are four tabs at the bottom of the app screen. One of them is the Medical ID tab. You can create a Medical ID profile which designates ICE telephone numbers from your Contacts. You can also list what medicines you are currently taking, what medicines first responders should not give you, and any other notes you think they might need, such as; pupils will be unresponsive. This info is accessible without going through the Locked Screen by pressing the Emergency button.
Apple says this info is stored only on your iOS Device. However, many first responders may not know how to access the screen on your iOS Device. They are trained to look for a Med-alert bracelet first. Also, few of them, if any, will know how to work your iOS Device while VoiceOver and the Screen Curtain are engaged.
The privacy issue to consider here is that if anyone picks up your iOS Device, they only need a few seconds to access this very personal data about you, even if your iOS Device is locked.
SECTION 8: Bluetooth.
VoiceOverEasy.net saved this section for last, because it has a huge potential to assist people with visual impairments with navigation and location tracking. You may have noticed that your iPhone and iPad tell you that “location accuracy and Nearby Services are improved when Bluetooth is turned on.” The flipside of this technology is that companies will be able to track your movements on a very precise scale, and you may not want this. Here’s how it works.
Small Bluetooth transmitters with a range of about 30 feet are placed all through large public places like shopping centers, baseball stadiums, amusement parks, museums, and even along streets. Your iOS device receives these transmissions and figures out there relative strengths. An app on your phone sends the data over the internet, and the company who owns the facility uses the relative signal strengths to calculate your position within a few feet. They can then send targeted ads based on your exact location, or tell you about things near you. Some examples might be:
- The name of the street corner you are on, or what stores and restaurants you’re walking past. Restaurants could flash you an overview of your menu, and stores could announce their names and sale items as you walk by.
- You could ask your device to direct you to the nearest bus stop, train station, or subway, and get an idea of how long you’ll have to wait by asking where the bus is now.
- As you walk past exhibits in a museum, your device could tell you about them or read the display cards.
- From within a shopping center you could ask your device to guide you to a particular store or restaurant, or most important of all, the restroom. You could even have your device remember this spot when you get out of the car, and then guide you back there when your shopping is complete.
- Your device can tell you about things you’re walking past in an amusement park or at a convention, and warn you when you’re getting near a crowded area.
- When you walk into your favorite Starbucks, the store could recognize you as a frequent customer and flash you a discount coupon to your device.
This technology is in its infancy. So it may take time for some of these things to pass, but the potential for enhancing independence for visually impaired people is huge.
Now for the flip side. Notice item 6 above. How does the store know you are a frequent customer? Easy, they save all the location data, and they know how often your device with its specific Advertising Tracking number has visited that location and at what times. You can occasionally reset your Advertising Tracking number as discussed earlier to help keep your activities a little more private.
To turn Bluetooth on or off follow these steps:
- Activate the Settings Icon from the Home Screen.
- Press the Bluetooth button from the Settings main menu.
- Press the button at the top of the Bluetooth Screen to change the setting to the one you want.
Section 9: Conclusion
The powerful mobile computer that is your iOS Device can open a whole new world of independence and provide services to you almost anywhere you are. The benefits of this technology far outweigh the drawbacks. As you use this technology you should keep in mind the security and privacy issues it raises and find the balance of convenience and protection that is right for you. It’s no different than using your stove. Your stove can bring you years of wonderful meals alone or with friends. You just have to take a few precautions so you don’t get burned.
SECTION 10: Exercises.
- Find out what apps have accessed your location services in the last week.
- How can you turn the Screen Curtain on and off, and what does it do?
- What does your Advertising Tracking Number do, and why might you want to occasionally reset it? How do you reset it?
- Try turning Bluetooth on and off.
- Can you get a computer virus from a cookie?
- Besides the screen curtain, what's an easy, low-tech solution for making it difficult for someone to watch what your doing on your iOS Device?
- How can you prevent the camera app from having access to your current location, and why might you want to do this?
- How do you find the privacy settings for the Safari web browser?
Click here for answers.
Congratulations! You have finished the section on privacy. This is a good time for you to take a break and do something else. Just don't tell anybody what that "something else" is.
SECTION 11: Additional Reading.
The articles below can provide more information on privacy. Several were used as source material for this lesson and were linked to earlier. If you would like to learn more about your privacy in the digital age, they are a good starting place.
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