PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Is your phone cluttered with apps? Ones you don’t even use anymore? You can delete them, but if you think they’re gone — think again.
Something called “tagging” can store information about you, long after the app has been deleted.
The app may be gone, but your information isn’t necessarily forgotten. Some of it is and some of it isn’t, according to Computer Science expert Dr. Patrick Juola from Duquesne University.
“Every computer that’s made has a little identifier in it to help identify it to the network so that your texts go to you, and my texts go to me,” said Juola.
According to Juola, tagging is a common tracking technique that many app developers are using to tap into that identifier.
“From a technical standpoint, anyone can do this. Apple doesn’t like doing this and they have got safeguards in place to prevent this from being done,” said Juola.
One thing they can tell is whether you reinstall their app.
“I take them off all the time because I try to make room for other things. But I have noticed that when I take it off, it doesn’t completely remove it. If you want to get it back, it’s like a re-download. So it’s still there,” said Ruth Cortese.
However, they cannot track your location.
“As far as we know, they cannot identify your location. Once you’ve deleted it, then the phone doesn’t have the capacity to send your location information anymore,” said Juola.
According to Juola, the tagging technique itself can be useful as long as the user’s privacy is respected.
“It’s like a locksmith. A locksmith is very good if you are locked out of your house. It’s very bad if the locksmith is also a burglar on the side,” said Juola.
Balancing the desire for privacy with the desire for latest technology is a struggle some.
“The thought of all these different people having information about my life and what I’m doing. I don’t like it at all,” said Carlos Gonzalez. “I’m not too comfortable with it. I like my own privacy. My information is mine,” said Zachary Majors.
According to Juola, much of it is within your control depending on how you use your phone.
“You don’t need to use an app for everything. If I need a ride, I don’t need to use the Uber app. I can phone a traditional cab,” said Juola.