Frequently Asked Questions - Location Privacy
Why don't I just turn off the location settings on my device to protect my privacy?
You can manage the location settings by yourself but you may forget about their state or another application may turn the settings on without clear instructions from you (especially if you have a rooted device). PlaceMask Location Privacy acts like a location watchdog. It monitors the settings that affect your location sharing and it warns you when they have changed. While some people prefer (or may simply be unaware) to always have their location settings on until they want some privacy (i.e. share by default), PlaceMask Location Privacy takes the opposite approach, which is to enforce location privacy by default, warn you of possible encroachments, and give you the option to unmask at will.
Do I need a rooted device to run PlaceMask Location Privacy?
No. PlaceMask Location Privacy is designed for devices that have not been rooted but it will still operate on rooted devices too.
I don't see your app on Google Play. What is going on?
You probably do not see PlaceMask Location Privacy because it is being filtered out based on your operating system version, device hardware or locale. Currently, PlaceMask Location Privacy is only available for Android OS 2.2 (Froyo) or higher and the market also filters out devices that cannot acquire location from the network and an on-board GPS.
In which languages is PlaceMask available?
While now available worldwide, PlaceMask Location Privacy is currently only available in English, French, or Korean. We continue to add more languages as we observe strong use in those languages. Thank you for your patience.
Why did you write PlaceMask Location Privacy? Do you support criminal behaviour?
PlaceMask Location Privacy is filling a need to preserve the digital freedom of our customers by giving them transparent control of their location. We are not criminals and do not support the use of our products in an illegal context.
I don't have anything to hide, so what is the concern about location privacy anyways?
Privacy does not equal secrecy. Such is a narrow view which does not address cases where I have private information that I choose to share with other people. Privacy is "...the right to control access to one's person and information about one's self. The right to privacy means that individuals get to decide what and how much information to give up, to whom it is given, and for what uses (Privacy Commissioner of Canada, 2002)." If you are not in control of your personal information, then you are facing a breach which erodes your personal freedom and the very rights enshrined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
What are the Privacy Levels that I see in PlaceMask Location Privacy?
There are three Privacy Levels in PlaceMask Location Privacy. The first level, Minimum Privacy, monitors the location settings on your device and notifies you if the location settings are enabled...essentially blocking you from location leakage. The second level, Medium Privacy, also monitors those settings but also injects a replacement location into the device's GPS and Network location providers. The third level, Maximum Privacy, does everything the first two levels does and also introduces replacement location randomization so that your device appears to be moving in a random vicinity to your replacement location.
If I am using an online service to request my device location, what does the service see?
Online services that communicate with applications onboard your device will see exactly no location or the replacement location you specify. PlaceMask Location Privacy has been tested for location leakage against these types of services (e.g. phone finder and location tracking services).
If my location is blocked using PlaceMask, can emergency services still locate my device?
PlaceMask Location Privacy only blocks and/or replaces locations at the application tier. This tier is within the context of the applications on your mobile device. The network provider will still be able to identify the location of your device as they are often regulated (depending on the country) to know the location of emergency calls.
What about phone finder apps? Will I be able to use them to find my device when PlaceMask is running?
The phone finder app will find your device's replacement location and this could be a problem in locating a lost device. As a result, we have added a feature in the premium version of PlaceMask Location Privacy to remotely control the PlaceMask Service. By sending SMS keywords, you can start or stop PlaceMask Location Privacy. With remote control activated, you can send an SMS remote stop keyword to shut down PlaceMask Location Privacy. After waiting a couple of minutes, try initiating your phone finder. While PlaceMask does nothing to start your phone finder or locate your device, please be aware of the limitations around those services (i.e. Google fixed the operating system from Android 2.3 to keep apps from turning on your location settings without user interaction). Thus, while PlaceMask can remotely stop, the location settings are left off and the phone finder app you are using may not be able to turn them back on unless the app you are using has super user privileges (e.g. rooted phone).
By using PlaceMask Location Privacy, will I be "off the 'location' grid" completely?
PlaceMask Location Privacy provides you the capability to keep all applications on your device from knowing your location. In designing this software, we were concerned with the intrusiveness of some system level applications that could leak location. As a result, we decided to build safeguards that remind the user at appropriate times to change the device location settings that may lead to location leakage. However, your location may still be leaked by carrier services that communicate with your device. These services may not reside on your device but may be required by the carrier to offer you communication services and for which they are regulated to access your location during emergency situations. In summary, with PlaceMask Location Privacy you may be "off the 'location' grid" as far as your device is concerned but not as far the communications carrier is concerned when using their services. Additionally, we currently do not mask your IP address which may give an indication of your coarse location through a GeoIP lookup. For some carriers, the IP addresses assigned to devices will only identify your country while others may be more granular. Proxy services can be used to anonymize your IP packets but alone those packets may still contain your device location unless you are also using PlaceMask Location Privacy.
Can you explain the permissions required by PlaceMask Location Privacy?
Absolutely! The application uses the following Android permissions for the following reasons:
Do you store my location?
Sometimes I see dialogs from other applications asking if I want to enable location settings, what should I do?
When other applications detect the location settings, they may prompt you to change them in order to have their application function. If you want real locations inserted into the requesting application, then you should follow the suggestions given by their dialogs and prompts. If you want replacement locations inserted into the requesting application, then you should make sure PlaceMask Location Privacy is running as a service and simply respond to the prompts in the negative (e.g. disagree, cancel, no, etc...) and PlaceMask Location Privacy will take care of protecting your privacy.
I noticed that if my replacement location is in another time zone, my clock changes. How can I fix that?
Some devices will set their clock to align with the GPS time. As PlaceMask Location Privacy adjusts your GPS to use your replacement location, the clock may sometimes appear to be in another time zone. If this is a concern, you may change the Date and Time settings to the timezone of your choice.
What is the impact of battery saving technologies on PlaceMask Location Privacy?
There are some great apps for increasing the life of your battery by turning off device features (e.g. wireless communications) that may not be used at a given time. PlaceMask Location Privacy has been tested with such apps and they have helped us ensure that location leakage does not occur as the device toggles features to maximize battery life.
What about PlaceMask Location Privacy for iPhone and iOS?
iOS does not currently provide the same capability for developers to alter the location of the device as the Android OS.