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    Privacy Questions Surround GPS on Mobile Phones

    The Washington Post has an interesting story on GPS systems on mobile phones and the ways marketers are seeking to use the technology. Increasingly, we’re part of a world where technology makes surreptitious tracking easy.

    Consumers for years have been able to carry portable electronic devices that can pinpoint where they are on a map or a mountain trail. But […] the iPhone 3G signals the growing sophistication of an industry — demonstrating the power of marrying precise location technology with the reach of the Internet on mobile devices.

    Merchants can use this information to target ads, malls to entice shoppers, insurance adjusters to calibrate premiums, employers to catch moonlighters and parents to keep an eye on children. But what many users may not realize is that by sharing this information, they are creating often permanent records that can tell not only wireless providers, but also social networking sites, other users, and potentially law enforcement and civil attorneys every place they are and have been, as long as their phone and tracking device are on.

    “There’s a disconnect between our expectations of when we will be observed and who will be observing us and how that information will be used and what the technology is allowing companies to do,” said Jennifer Urban, a University of Southern California law professor.

    2 Responses to “Privacy Questions Surround GPS on Mobile Phones”

    1. Anonymous Says:

      This article highlights the good and bad of portable communication devices. Yes, I want to have all the advantages, like sharing “cool places” with my friends. As much as I hate advertisements, I also like the idea of saving money. So, the idea of being sent digital coupons for places in the general direction I am headed is appealing. It is definitely better than searching through the pile of coupons sent in the mail to find a place.

      This being said. I am very uncomfortable with having anyone having access to the places I have been. I am more concern about my employer and individuals knowing my location than I am about advertisers. This is because to these advertisers I am just a data point. However, I am very concerned with an employer tracking my location during personal time, and acquaintances being able to gain more access to my personal life than I would normally want to allow them. Therefore, while most people seem to be concerned about how service providers and advertisers share this information. I would like to see an emphasis informing individuals how to limit which personal acquaintances get access to their data.

      Good day all.

    2. Anonymous Says:

      I like some of the new features provided by companies such as Apple, but I confess, I’m not a technology expert. How am I to know all the ramifications of the technology I’m considering? It seems commerce is becoming more and more one-sided. The provider knows everything and I know nothing. How am I to protect myself? Why do I feel like I’m on my own and at the mercy of these companies? Shouldn’t there be a third party that can help even the scales a bit? Perhaps an elected third party, like say, the Federal Government? Sadly, the FTC et al seem to be missing in action.

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