Security Expert: Only share location data when you need to

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – That digital billboard you watch as you drive by every day may be watching you.

Senator Chuck Schumer is urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate what he calls spying billboards, digital advertising signs that use your cellphone’s location data to track you.

Data collected could be used to market specific ads to specific drivers based on their location history.

“A person’s cell phone should not become a James Bond-like personal tracking device for a corporation to gather information about consumers without their consent,” Sen. Schumer said.

NEWS10’s Noel McLaren reached out to local billboard company Lamar to see if it’s using the tracking technology in local signs.

Representatives say right now they aren’t, but drive south of I-87 and you might come across some Clear Channel billboards. That company has implemented the new technology.

Cyber Security Expert Michael Stamas with Grey Castle Security says if you’re using your cell phone’s GPS, the billboards can use your information.

“That data is being collected and being sold to companies like Clear Channel,” Stamas said.

Like Schumer, he believes, consumers and drivers should be made aware of the tracking technology and be able to opt out.

His suggestion for now is to turn off your location sharing services when possible on social media apps and on your phone’s camera.

You may need it for your GPS if you’re lost, but when in doubt, don’t share.

“Toggle those services off and use them when needed,” Stamas said. “That’s the only way to really limit how much data you share with third parties.”

Stamas went on to say that it’s not just billboards that are capable of tracking your location. Any store, website, social media site could use the same technology, so be sure to turn off location services unless you need them.

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