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What is Geolocation and How Can You Change It?

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As you may know, countless third parties are continually collecting data on unsuspecting people around the world. “How are they doing this?” you may be wondering.

There are several tactics that third parties use to gather personal data, one of them being the use of geolocation data.

What is Geolocation?

Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “what is geolocation, and how are third parties using it to collect my data?”. That’s a fair follow-up question.

In layman’s terms, geolocation is the geographical location of a device connected to the internet.

Geolocation can be determined in two ways: by collecting device-based data or server-based data.

Device-Based Data

Device-based data is collected using GPS and cellular networks that identify a device’s longitudinal and latitudinal location. Due to its heavy reliance on GPS technology, device-based data is easier to collect in highly populated areas, like cities, and more difficult to collect in less populated areas, like rural hamlets.

As an example, if you are streaming a series on your laptop in your home, third parties can identify where your laptop is at that given time.

Server-Based Data

Similarly, third parties can determine your geolocation by identifying your internet protocol (IP) address when it connects to WiFi or ethernet. These IP addresses are then aggregated based on their geographical location. This data is known as server-based data.

Although this may seem like unimportant information at first glance, after some critical thinking, one can see how genuinely invaluable geolocation data can be to third parties.

Why Do Third Parties Want Your Geolocation?

One of the main reasons that third parties are interested in your geolocation is so that they can sell it to companies for a profit. These companies can then use this data for niche advertising purposes (remember those catered ads that pop up at the bottom of your screen while you’re streaming your favorite shows?).

Can You Change or Hide Your Geolocation?

Technically, your geolocation changes whenever you go from one place to another (as long as you have a smart device on you). This means that your geolocation may vary from day-to-day.

However, if you’re trying to hide your geolocation from third parties, then you may want to try what’s known as “geo-spoofing.” Geo-spoofing is the act of masking your device’s IP address.

Users can geo-spoof their locations by using virtual private networks (VPNs) to connect to servers around the world — doing this temporarily changes your IP address to an IP address in a different country. This makes it nearly impossible for third parties to track your geolocation.

Not to mention, while you are geo-spoofing, you can use your private VPN to access restricted foreign content.

Some countries have strict rules which forbid outside users from viewing their media (commonly referred to as a geo-block). Thankfully, with a VPN, you can mask your current IP address, allowing you to bypass the geo-block with ease.

Now that you’re familiar with geolocation data collection and its importance, you can see why not everyone is comfortable sharing this information. You can now use this information to stop third parties from accessing your geolocation.

About the author


Rob Teitelman