Radios, Sensors, and SIM Cards

There are several components in a smartphone that Big Tech, application software, your cellphone carrier, and government can use to track you. Data from the:

  • radio modem
  • wifi
  • GPS
  • Bluetooth
  • NFC

Rob Braxman, the Internet Privacy Guy, believes that turning on airplane mode isn’t very effective in stopping Big Tech and everyone else from tracking you. With privacy, I like to err on the side of caution so I would lean in the direction of his opinion. Turning off all those radios and sensors doesn’t mean you become invisible.

For example, Rob mentions something called “wifi scanning.” This is not the regular wifi scanning process of turning on your WiFi and see what networks are around to connect to. Rob says this kind of wifi scanning can’t be turned off and is always scanning the wifi networks around the phone and sending that data back to Google/Apple. By the map of nearby wifi signals, then location can certainly be approximated.

Putting an activated SIM card in a phone automatically puts you on the tracking radar. If you have a regular phone, then definitely remove the SIM card if you want less tracking. If you connect to wifi/bluetooth on a regular phone with the SIM card removed, there is still the possibility that the apps that are installed on the phone will track you, once they are connected back to the Internet (they have to be running in order to track, so you have to ensure that they’re not running in the background).