Life used to be much simpler when we just relied on mail. At the same time, the only choices in phones basically meant “on the wall” or on the night stand.
Then, computers came along and we had to start worrying about spam and the occasional virus. Of course, if you use some politician reasoning, a computer virus is good because it provides jobs. All of a sudden, guys who ate pizza for breakfast and were spending hours in the basement on the newest war game, were now being called out to “fix the computer”.
Then, the cell phone become a major part of our lives. By the way, can you believe that the cell phone just celebrated a 40-year anniversary? Well, we have come to accept that the computer can be filled with danger. Now, we are being told that the phone is also putting out information about us.
At the American Bar Association Tech show this past week, the topic of conversation was Geolocation technology. At the seminar, the audience of lawyers was asked to see how many had actually read the permission policies when they had installed various apps on their mobile devices. Not surprisingly, most did not raise their hand, according to the article.
Now, most phone/mobile devices have the ability and are transmitting information about the precise record of a user’s location over a period time. This can result in the ability to create a report that is very accurate and highly personal. Clearly, the information can be sold to third parties for marketing purposes or for some other commercial use. It allows specific advertisement targeting. I am standing next to a restarant or go near a retail store; I get a coupon sent to me.
This pinpoint capability can be used for good reason. If you are in a car accident or in an area that is unfamiliar and don’t know how to describe your location, you can still be found. Criminals and fugitives can be found more easily. Clearly, what was originally considered to be a simple phone is now raising questions of possible constitutional significance. Is this a violation of our right to privacy that has crept up behind us?
The Federal Communications Commission has taken notice of this concern. Last year, the FCC issued a report that found the following: “Because mobile devices have the ability—and often the technical requirement—to regularly transmit their location to a network, they also enable the creation of a precise record of a user’s locations over time.This can result in the creation of a very accurate and highly personal user profile, which raises questions of how, when and by whom this information can and should be used”
This was a reminder to me to pay attention when I download an app. Also, website PleaseRobMe.com uses Twitter to find and display location-based messages that remind consumers of the risks in sharing too much information. More choices in technology also raises more privacy concerns.
For pic o’ day, I went back to one that reminds us that it is getting warmer. Don’t forget the sunblock!
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