The International Business Times has the latest story about privacy and personal security questions concerning location-tracking services.
Location-based services are becoming more common, and the features they add to mobile devices can be useful and even fun. But they also bring concerns about privacy and safety.
Several sites take a social networking approach, such as Foursquare.com, Gowalla.com and Yelp. All three offer options where a user shares their location with friends. […]
But the downside is that everyone who reads the posting will know the user isn’t home. […]
Spokespeople for both Foursquare and Gowalla maintain that the data that identifies individuals is safe, and that their systems are set up in such a way that the user has to choose with whom to share their locations and feeds with.
But one concern is that it doesn’t take a sophisticated hacker to track another person’s location. Earlier this year, a trio of Dutch software developers put up a site called PleaseRobMe.com. The principle was simple: pull data from Twitter and Foursquare and post the username and (self-reported) locations. And many users weren’t paying attention to their privacy settings. […]
It isn’t just voluntary broadcasting that is an issue. AT&T, for example, has a “FamilyMap” feature, that allows someone with an AT&T phone to use either a computer or other smartphone to get exact location data for the phone of a family member. […]
While some might not care that their location is broadcast, there are cases where it has been used by stalkers. Recently in Somersworth, N.H., a woman was tracked by her abusive husband via AT&T’s FamilyMap.
A 2009 report about stalking from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that “Electronic monitoring was used to stalk 1 in 13 victims. Video or digital cameras were equally likely as listening devices or bugs to be used to electronically monitor victims (46% and 42%). Global positioning system (GPS) technology comprised about a tenth of the electronic monitoring of stalking victims.” Read more about the report here. Also, the National Network to End Domestic Violence has a paper about how abusers and stalkers use technology to control and harass their victims.