Thoughts on Fair Information Practices

In the reading “Location Privacy and Location-Aware Computing,” the authors talk about the five principles of fair information practices, which are regulatory strategies to protect location privacy. The first is notice and transparency, making individuals aware of who’s collecting their data. However, I’m not convinced that this helps to protect location privacy. The public is becoming increasingly aware of how much data social media companies collect on our location, for example, and while there has been some outcry this hasn’t prevented such a location privacy breach. The second is consent and use limitation, making individuals consent to personal information being collected. As so many people check “Terms of Service” boxes when downloading apps without reading them, consenting to data being collected on them without realizing it, I also don’t think that consent is enough to protect location privacy- informed consent is. The third fair information practice is access and participation: individuals must be able to access stored personal data. While this is possible, most people are not aware that it is or how they could access their data, so just making such an action feasible doesn’t mean the public at large will practically be able to take advantage of it. The fourth is integrity and security, companies who collect data having to keep them safe from “unauthorized access.” As a number of data hacks over the years has shown, companies may attempt to do this but have not always been successful.┬áTherefore, while all of these practices are nice in theory, they have not been particularly meaningful in practice. Until all individuals are aware of how much location data companies collect of them, give informed consent for such data collection, and have easy, reasonable access to such data, these practices will not practically protect the public at large from unfair or excessive location data collection.

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