Who Owns Your Location Information?

from the where's-waldo? dept

Location-based services have long been a hot topic in wireless, even if they’ve largely failed to live up to the ridiculous level of hype thus far. However, even though relatively few handsets currently have the ability to pinpoint users’ locations with the accuracy of GPS, operators do keep less detailed location information, such as the towers from which calls are made or messages sent. This information is used for different reasons, such as billing, and is more commonly being used by law enforcement as forensic evidence. One researcher who was called as an expert witness in a trial recently to help explain such evidence is now wondering just who owns that location information. Obviously in criminal cases, it must be subpoenaed from an operator, but the researcher says his operator won’t even provide him with the location info they have regarding his own calls. It’s also unclear what operators’ policies are with this information. Some operators are already delivering aggregated location information to companies that use it to determine how road traffic is moving. While this is anonymous, general data, what if operators decided they could start a nice new revenue line by selling individual information to anybody who wanted it? As location-based services proliferate, these sorts of questions are bound to pop up more frequently. While the services do have the potential to be very useful, they’ll also need to come with safeguards that allow people to control who can see their location data and how it can be used.

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Comments on “Who Owns Your Location Information?”

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Ellen says:

Who Owns Your Location Information?

In the U.S., YOU own your location information.

On Oct. 26, 1999, President Clinton signed into law the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999. This legislation authorized telecommunications carriers to provide call location information concerning a user of a commercial mobile service (e.g., a cell phone user) to: (1) emergency dispatchers and emergency service personnel in order to respond to the user’s call; (2) the user’s legal guardian or family member in an emergency situation that involves the risk of death or serious physical harm; or (3) providers of information or data base management services solely for assisting in the delivery of emergency services. Disclosure to any other person requires a customer’s express prior authorization.

Precise location information is opt-in. Not for sale without permission.

Peter Cranstone (user link) says:

GPS location on a mobile phone

Hi Carlo,

We’ve developed a technology that allows you to stream GPS data over HTTP from a mobile phone. This link shows you a picture of it. http://www.5o9inc.com

To safeguard the users privacy we’ve enable the customer to selectively share the information. With a click of the mouse they can disable the “send lat,long information”



Anonymous Coward says:

Re: location information

I believe that is the problem is that it isn’t defined in the contract that you or anyone else has any specific rights to the data. It is basically personal data that is collected on you that you don’t have any right to or any right to restrict access to (as it stands currently). To me, it is worth a lot and I would like to see in a contract that I control how that information is used.

Nate says:

Don't forget IP addresses

My web company uses IP address geolocation extensively, for relatively innocent things like default language determination, but also for more interesting purposes, such as ad targeting and even assessing user worth. I know that many, if not most, mid-sized to large commercial websites do this.

I think its worth bringing this up because many Internet users surf under an assumption that their whereabouts are completely unknown to the sites that they visit, which is simply not the case.

Liz Coker (user link) says:

Customers Should Own Their Location Data

This is no different than the issue of having access to your own medical records. Release of this information (other than for legitimate legal purposes or emergency notifications) should be determined by the user.

Being able to opt-in or opt-out of sharing location information should be simple, easy, and USER controlled. I and my partners at 5o9, Inc. feel very strongly about this topic and have created technology that makes this possible.

Data Buyer (user link) says:

Good For Marketers

Speaking from a Marketers Perspective the boom in information availability is a blessing. In past days it took very deep pockets to leverage good marketing data, but now that information is becoming more prevalent, sites like odditysoftware.com and others have made it easier to get out of the gate making location based and business centric database downloads that small businesses and marketers can afford.

canthy says:

The operator who owns our location information should do their job in legality, how can they forward our location information to someone who will want it.

For ours, when we are enter some website to apply a permit to get information, shouldn’t leave more detail about private information.

When you find it is difficult to do business from China, pls enter into http://www.acb2b.com to get help form us,We also provide a suite of services that could help US companies doing business in China. These services include agents/distributors recruiting services, online/offline marketing campaigns, Chinese Business Credential Investigation, Chinese market research, website China hosting, website documentation translation, trade show services and other services related to doing business in China.

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