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    San Jose Mercury News Columnist: Location tracking on cell phones raises privacy concerns

    San Jose Mercury News Columnist Troy Wolverton writes about privacy and location tracking technology on mobile devices.

    I love the location-based features on my iPhone. But after talking with privacy advocates last week, I’m concerned about who’s keeping track of my location — and what they’re doing with that data. […]

    But privacy advocates such as John Morris, general counsel of the Center for Democracy and Technology, worry that such location-based services are ripe for abuse.

    While marketers typically have to get consumers’ consent before tracking their location, Morris and others note that consumers are typically asked just once. If they answer “yes” that first time, marketers typically assume they have permission in the future.

    Privacy advocates also question whether consumers fully understand how their data could be used. The typical iPhone app simply asks users whether it can “use your current location.” It doesn’t explain in detail how that information will be used.

    Many consumers assume the information will be used by that program just to, say, determine the closest Starbucks. But privacy advocates note that there’s little to limit a marketer to just that. There are few rules for what marketers can do with location data they collect.

    Read my previous posts to learn more about location tracking and how it’s being used by worried parents, suspicious spouses, violent stalkers, some car dealerships, and British marketers to surreptitiously follow individuals. You can read more about how marketers are seeking to use GPS technology in a Washington Post article from last year. In May, the Christian Science Monitor wrote about location privacy.

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