Is It Fair Game To Track People's Movements Via Their Mobile Phones?
from the ethical-questions dept
However, some researchers worked with an unnamed mobile phone company to get a ton of this type of data in order to get an idea of how people move around. While the researchers seem to think the results are surprising, they don't seem all that unexpected. Basically, people tend to just go to a few regular places rather than travel randomly around -- and most people don't travel far from home all that often. I'm somewhat surprised that anyone would have expected otherwise.
What may be more interesting, though, is the brewing controversy over how this data was obtained and whether or not it violated privacy rights or ethics rules. The researchers note that the data was totally anonymized, but we've all seen how any anonymized dataset can be unanonymized with a little work. In some ways, this goes back to a post we had last year from Tom Lee, questioning whether we needed new privacy norms when it came to things like mobile phone tracking. What does seem likely, however, is that we're only going to hear of more and more cases where such tracking data is used, and such questions about privacy and morality probably won't hold much weight next to the desire to get and use that kind of data.