I have heard much about location based services lately and prior to reading this paper had merely thought of it as Google Maps on a smartphone. It was interesting to read more about it and the issues it faces particularly that of privacy and surveillance. As my pseudonym suggests, I enjoy being outside not merely because it is nicer than being inside but partly because nobody knows where I am when I go outside and go hiking or canoeing etc. As mentioned in class, few people recognize location privacy and freedom and fewer still realize is being lost.

Before the advent of cell phones and the internet, if someone wanted to find out where you were going they needed to ask you. Today, they may not need to. They could just see if they have you on Foursquare, if you’ve updated your Twitter location or posted your plans of Facebook. Who says they even need to be good friends to be able to do this? You may have met them once or twice at a school activity etc. and thought you might want to stay in touch with them but they now have access to a huge amount of information about you and particularly your location. This leads to the importance of privacy not only in relation to strangers but perhaps also to acquaintances; you may have met them but do you really want them aware of your every move, literally?

Privacy with respect to strangers, institutions, governments etc. is even harder to obtain as these bodies do not need to know you to obtain your information. In the case of governments and institutions, they may obtain it by attempting to order it be given to them by the companies. In the case of strangers, hacking is not uncommon. It seems to me with one’s location being updated and distributed online or even via a phone, it would be all too easy for someone to follow that person, learn their habits etc. and could be dangerous to their personal security.

The Yao article mentions there are efforts in place to try to create frameworks for increasing security but that these have so far been limited with few studies performed. I feel that much more time and energy should be put into increasing security but that perhaps users should be educated on privacy issues from a young age when they begin using LBS technology so that they are aware of exactly how accessible the information they post online may be to those who are looking for it.

-Outdoor Addict


One Response to “Privacy”

  1. climateNYC says:

    I think you make a really good point in a dramatic/clear fashion. Hadn’t thought about those acquaintances I meet tracking me on Facebook. Interesting to note that Obama is trying to work on this privacy issue, at least in the frame of the Internet itself (maybe not LBS). Not sure it’s all that new given privacy efforts in other countries, but of interest as this idea develops: