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Track me if you can

At the beginning of 2022, I discovered that for the past 3 years my Android phone has been tracking my location data and sending it to Google servers in the United States. My daily visits to places like work, school, supermarkets, and bars are all being recorded.

Google’s business model of extracting and selling user data is no secret to me, but I never imagined that these activities happen while I am not even using my phone (or using apps which don’t require location data).

This concern lead me to conduct experiments and investigate how geolocation tracking technology works. I discovered that smartphones use multiple sensors – such as the WiFi antenna – to determine their own location, making them the ultimate real-time tracking devices. On its own, this technology isn’t harmful, but it is highly susceptible to exploitation. Big Tech earns money by selling your location data, and it might even end up in a government database used for mass surveillance – shocking right?

As a response to this tracking ecosystem, I created GEO-Decoy, a dissident interactive machine, which reclaims location privacy. It does this by outputting decoy WiFi signals to create a space of uncertainty. The signals confuse the Big Tech tracking algorithms to the point where they will never be able to find the smartphone’s exact location. Flickering between locations, smartphones that get nearby this machine are seemingly everywhere and nowhere all at once.

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