“Lost phones keep pointing at this Atlanta couple’s house”


When phones attempt to geolocate themselves, they’ll usually look first to GPS or the cell towers they most recently connected to, but that won’t work if the phone is in a building without clear sight of satellites or if it’s off the cellular network. Then the phone will look to back-up location databases, first, using its IP address and, second, by looking at the nearest Wifi networks it can detect. Based on the signal strength of each Wifi connection, it can usually figure out within 10 meters where the phone is.

Who made the decision to use IP lookups for this? Every major telecom1 in the US provides dynamic IP addresses – which means that the location data is only going to be accurate for three days, at most.

  1. All one of them. 

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