Seems everybody is freaked these days about being followed or tracked from up there.
But one of the biggest misconceptions I hear about GPS all the time is that those satellites are tracking you, they don't.
They actually can't.
But they do enable devices down here on the ground to do so.
And one of the most insidious isn't even a tracking device per say.
It's your Smart phone.
First a little explanation how all this stuff works.
The Global Positioning System or GPS is a network of about 30 satellites constantly orbiting the globe, run by the US government.
And what they're doing is always sending down to earth a signal indicating where they are and when they are there with extreme precision.
Now devices down here on earth with an in-expensive GPS receiver chip in them pick up all those signals and can make sense of it.
That's how they know where they are.
As you know there are dedicated GPS tracking devices like this guy here.
You drop this on someone's purse attached it to their car, hide it somewhere on their person and you'll know where are all the time in real time but when it comes to sheer numbers, the Smart phone is a far more ubiquitous GPS tracker.
It's growth has been huge in the last few years.
As of now, some 43% of us carry one and that's growing fast.
But unlike a simple tracker, it marries your location, the details about your life and makes all that available via a constant wireless internet connection.
For example, I'm out running errands right now while I should be at work.
My phone basically knows that because GPS tells it where I am and what time I'm there.
I left on my Google latitude feature, that's recording locations and since I probably have 3g and wifi on most or all of the time those various information gatherers can report my information and things about me without me really being aware of it.
Do I have your attention now.
Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft.
Just some of the parties that have been in the headlines recently for recording and storing this kind of information.
Okay, as bad as this sounds the good news is this kind of tracking happens on not just any Smart phone but your Smart phone.
Therefore you have access to some controls that will let you manage how much of this happens.
So note this settings in the menus on any Smart phone you own.
First of all, be familiar with your phones GPS menu.
You can often turn GPS on and off in several layers.
But knows that any phone made in the last few years will always reveal your location if you call 911 which I assume doesn't bother you.
Secondly, pictures combined with location.
That could be particularly creepy.
So locate the settings on your Smart phones camera app that can disable automatic GPS tagging of your pictures.
Certainly know what your apps are doing with your location.
Check their settings.
Look at the disclaimer when you install them.
And know that in some cases you may have to adjust your privacy for them on the full website not within the phone app itself.
Now if all this has you thoroughly demoralized and laying awake at night.
Take part in a couple of real world facts.
First of all, among the millions of us.
You and I are probably aren't that interesting to be worth tracking anyway, at least not specifically.
Also you can take more dramatic steps to shutdown your Smart phone.
You can turn off all GPS technology.
You can even turn off the wireless connections when you're not using it.
But at that point, you're probably also in the market for a nice three bedroom (cave?) in Tora Bora.