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Location Services Raise Privacy Concerns

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the this-all-sounds-familiar dept.

Privacy 152

megahurt writes "Location-based services are becoming more common, and the features they add to mobile devices can be useful and even fun. But the downside is that everyone who reads the posting will know the user isn't home. On top of that, some services, such as Foursquare, can be linked to Twitter feeds. Peter Eckersley, senior staff technologist, says there are many situations in which the location data that is kept could be misused. Many of the providers of services say in their privacy policies they will give up the data in cases where it is subpoenaed. That isn't always from law enforcement; sometimes the data can be used in civil lawsuits such as divorce cases."

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152 comments

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Duh (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32589810)

If you're cheating on your wife, don't post that fact on the Internet.

Any other pro tips for me today, Slashdot?

You don't have to use these services (5, Insightful)

Pete Venkman (1659965) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589816)

People don't have to use these services.

Re:You don't have to use these services (4, Insightful)

phooka.de (302970) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589956)

People are stupid (or rather they are uninformed).

That's what the law is there for (amongst other things): to protect the uninformed masses and the stupid so you don't have to be an expert in every field you encounter in your daily life.

Re:You don't have to use these services (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590128)

I think there should just be a law against being stupid instead.

Re:You don't have to use these services (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590432)

The police will be at your door any minute now.

Re:You don't have to use these services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591328)

No, a fine.
Redistributing money from the dumb to the smart would be a boon to the economy.

Re:You don't have to use these services (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591896)

I suppose it would be stupid to have a law against being stupid, but some people just have to learn the hard way.

Like the morons who get sucked into banking phishing scams after being told repeatedly by their banks that they will NEVER email you. Or the greedy morons who get sucked in by Nigerian scams, knowing these have been exposed for over a decade, and knowing the deal has to be too good to be true...

Re:You don't have to use these services (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590332)

Civil law deals with fraud, malice and bad faith. I'm not so sure that it's there to give any reasonable, educated person of average intellect (which is what the law calls the "uninformed masses") with an Undo button for their voluntary actions. That's certainly not how it works in criminal statues.

Oh, I thought I could just sell this iPhone I "found". Undo. Wait, getting into a consensual bar fight means we're both guilty of affray? Undo. The speed limit here is 30, officer? Undo.

If ignorance of the law is not an excuse, general purpose ignorance probably isn't either.

Re:You don't have to use these services (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590640)

>>>That's what the law is there for (amongst other things): to protect the uninformed masses and the stupid so you don't have to be an expert in every field you encounter in your daily life.

Like this law?

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated [except via Judge-issued warrant]" - Or this one? "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people [like privacy]." - Or this one? "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution... are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

It's just a shame nobody in the U.S. Government obeys these laws and does whatever they can get away with, and even if caught, there are no consequences. IMHO we need one more law in order to keep these people in line (Amendment XXVIII):

Section 1. After a Bill has become Law, if one-half of the Member State legislatures declare the Law to be "unconstitutional" it shall be null and void. It shall be as if the Law never existed. ----- SECTION 2. The Supreme Court will have the authority to review cases, and as part of the ruling declare these cases constitutional or unconstitutional, however the decision by the States (section 1) shall be superior.

Re:You don't have to use these services (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591600)

It's just a shame nobody in the U.S. Government obeys these laws and does whatever they can get away with, and even if caught, there are no consequences. IMHO we need one more law in order to keep these people in line (Amendment XXVIII):

Section 1. After a Bill has become Law, if one-half of the Member State legislatures declare the Law to be "unconstitutional" it shall be null and void. It shall be as if the Law never existed. -----

Oh, goody you brought back nullification, you do remember how that turned out last time don't you?

PS. Captcha=warnings

Re:You don't have to use these services (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591950)

Ignorance is a paltry excuse, especially when it's willful.

Re:You don't have to use these services (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32592136)

Agreed, but things like this are just common sense, and don't require you being an expert in anything other then breathing.

Re:You don't have to use these services (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589988)

Or you can raise these concerns and possibly have companies provide better privacy guarantees. But yeah, whining that you are forced to use them is silly (unless you are literally forced).

Re:You don't have to use these services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590188)

have companies provide better privacy guarantees

Which is fine until Bob from sales leaves his laptop in an airport bar.

Re:You don't have to use these services (1)

gorzek (647352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590578)

And if Bob's laptop is any more useful than a brick to whoever steals it, that company has a shitty IT policy and may even have broken the law by allowing unsecured personal information on a laptop floating outside their premises. Sue, sue, sue!

Re:You don't have to use these services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591038)

And if Bob's laptop is any more useful than a brick to whoever steals it, that company has a shitty IT policy and may even have broken the law by allowing unsecured personal information on a laptop floating outside their premises. Sue, sue, sue!

A correction for you: If the DATA on Bob's laptop is any more useful than a brick to whoever steals it... After all, the person stealing it can always reformat the drive and load whatever they want on it (making it more useful than a brick).

Re:You don't have to use these services (1)

gorzek (647352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591386)

Well, yes, that's what I meant. :)

Re:You don't have to use these services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591878)

The point is that once the data has been collected, there is a nonzero probability that it will be shared regardless of the privacy "guarantees". Firing Bob doesn't unshare that data, and neither does suing the company.

Re:You don't have to use these services (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590360)

Once the company has the information they have little choice but to provide it in cases where there's been a subpoena served. Failing to do so comes with legal consequences. The better question is why are they storing the information in the first place. There's really no valid reason for them to be doing so beyond what's immediately necessary for the transaction. Assuming the user has opted in.

Re:You don't have to use these services (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590896)

It is from applications which by default send when and where you are. In case of four squares it's the whole idea of the application.

Re:You don't have to use these services (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#32592166)

The better question is why are they storing the information in the first place. There's really no valid reason for them to be doing so beyond what's immediately necessary for the transaction. Assuming the user has opted in.

Yeah, what a mystery. You'd think companies would be lined up to be a scapegoat for the next mass shooting or bombing.

...But Pseudo-Geek Hipsters Simply HAVE to (2, Interesting)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590206)

...and the number of them who owe me money, claim they're strapped for cash, yet tweet that they are the "mayor" of some downtown over-priced coffeehouse or sushi joint is ver-r-r-r-y revealing.

Gents: I may not be one of your twitter "followers," but I check your twitter pages religiously nonetheless. Pay up. Looks like my daughter's gonna need braces.

Thanks.

Re:...But Pseudo-Geek Hipsters Simply HAVE to (3, Funny)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590854)

You lend money to a bunch of pseudo-geek hipsters? What's your job, Loan Shark 2.0? Do you break their Twitter accounts if they don't pay up?

Re:...But Pseudo-Geek Hipsters Simply HAVE to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590966)

...and the number of them who owe me money, claim they're strapped for cash, yet tweet that they are the "mayor" of some downtown over-priced coffeehouse or sushi joint is ver-r-r-r-y revealing.

To be the "mayor" you don't need to actually purchase anything, you just need to be there. Doesn't prove anything.

Re:You don't have to use these services (4, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590258)

True - but wouldn't it be nice if we lived in a world where we could have our cake and eat it too? Where there only was one side of the coin?

Perhaps if there was some addition to the law saying that this sort of digital information was useless in court, we'd be one step closer to creating that reality. That reality where the people to cake ratio is exactly 1:1. Where everyone's piece not only is a corner piece with lots of icing but also a part of the artwork so you get that sugary gelatin stuff too. Where the bottom is a nice firm cookie based and the inside is moist and soft, or ice-cream if you prefer. ... What were we talking about again?

Re:You don't have to use these services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590540)

The cake is a lie!

Re:You don't have to use these services (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590612)

You might have a friend who does, and that could wind up leading to location information about you too: your friend announces that they are hanging out with you, and the location data announces where your friend is doing that.

Re:You don't have to use these services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590682)

You realize that the "spam my GPS location to anyone who asks" feature is turned on by default in most modern phones, right? You have to know to turn it off. Yeah you might have to sign up for a legitimate service first before they pull your data, but there's nothing to say illegitimate jerks aren't checking this stuff out too. People have to know to turn this crap off and that's a serious problem, a lot of folks don't.

Re:You don't have to use these services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591752)

Sometimes people do not have a choice - like if your employer is tracking your phone with a service like Xora (www.xora.com)

I think I might be starting to get it. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32589850)

So... putting all your info on facebook can be bad. Letting the world know where you are and when can be bad. (Unless you want an alibi for a crime.) Most of us here are aware of this. What happens online stays online, so yes we get it. How do we figure out how to make other people aware of it rather than just linking the same old tired articles which clearly are not working. How long will it be until some group starts working to forcibly "out" people's digital lives as a way to spread a greater awareness of this issue?

Re:I think I might be starting to get it. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590070)

Yes with ideas like http://wikileaks.org/wiki/EU_social_network_spy_system_brief,_INDECT_Work_Package_4,_2009 [wikileaks.org] and http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Mind_Your_Tweets:_The_CIA_Social_Networking_Surveillance_System [wikileaks.org] getting to the state and federal task forces expect to see more.
Now we have a lower end of data collecting too.
People seeking work are tracked and searched for.
Time to flood the system with junk/bait and 'out' the automated databases?

proxies are your friend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32589874)

Noscript + proxy.

The internet will take exactly as much of your privacy as you allow it to.

Re:proxies are your friend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590164)

Yea man, every time I post exactly where I am and what I'm doing to Facebook, I go through 7 proxies, just to make sure I'm totally safe.

proxies are not your friend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590282)

Since "Web 2.0", a proxy has degenerated into some crappy website where you can enter the address of another website, and then view it, plus extra adverts.

It just means whoever is running the proxy also gets to see all your data (in addition to the ISPs and governments at each end, etc).

Most halfway competent websites won't be fooled by a proxy anyway.

So... (3, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589876)

Remember to turn off the location services of your phone before you:

  • Break the law
  • Cheat on your partner
  • Skip school/work
  • Do anything else where you wouldn't want people to know your location

If only there were some kind of sense, possibly a common one, that would help avoid these nasty problems.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589894)

Or like, leave your phone at home...

Re:So... (2, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590392)

Or better yet, pay some homeless guy $50 bucks to carry it on the bus all over the city.

Re:So... (2, Funny)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590526)

That might backfire if he's murdered in an alley and it turns out that you were following him around all day (according to your phone records).

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591764)

Or better yet, pay some homeless guy $50 bucks to carry it on the bus all over the city.

I know inflation is bad, but fifty dollars bucks? Those bucks sure are expensive where you live!

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589948)

If only there were some kind of sense, possibly a common one, that would help avoid these nasty problems.

You know, new technology creates new situations which previously hadn't needed to be considered.

We're talking a very small number of years that the exact location you were standing when you did something is a matter of electronic record.

Common sense being neither, and the total number of years in which people have had to contend with such issues is relatively low. While you can sound all smug and say "everyone should know that", the reality is that most people with a smart phone barely know what all it does, let alone the legal ramifications of carrying one around. And, the number of people who have had their location subpoenaed for a tweet they made as part of their divorce case? Probably a very small number.

Why is the Slashdot crowd so myopic about technology that they think all of these issues have been around for decades, or that everyone who happens to use what is now a fairly ubiquitous technology is fully dialed into all of the aspects of that technology?

Some of these are actually quite new social and legal considerations. Acting like you've known this forever makes you sound like a smug idiot.

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590078)

Why is the Slashdot crowd so myopic about technology that they think all of these issues have been around for decades, or that everyone who happens to use what is now a fairly ubiquitous technology is fully dialed into all of the aspects of that technology?

Some of these are actually quite new social and legal considerations. Acting like you've known this forever makes you sound like a smug idiot.

It should be common sense that if something is tracking where you are at all times, then people will know where you are/were. You're right in that people commonly don't know how their expensive gadgets work and what they are capable of at even the most basic level, but just because something happens to be the common case doesn't mean that it "should" be the common case and accepted.

If you want to own and play with complex things then you need to understand complex things or it's more likely to come back and bite you in the ass. You don't necessarily need to understand it at more than a basic level, but you do need some level of understanding. Just like I don't understand toasters (a comparative simple bit of tech) well enough to build one but I understand them well enough to know not stick my finger in it when it's on or recently has been on. As those things get more complex, what you'll need to know and understand also tends to get more complex. This applies to many things in life, but is unfortunately ignored when it comes to computer related tech.

Re:So... (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590344)

It should be common sense

Why do people think that "common sense" is some intrinsic, infallible sense of what is happening around you? At best, it's a measure of "well known shared experiences" that most people remember. At worst, it's merely an expectation that other people should know the things we consider obvious.

If you want to own and play with complex things then you need to understand complex things or it's more likely to come back and bite you in the ass.

You know, I'm going to pull some numbers out of my ass for purposes of illustration: 90% of people don't understand 90% of the workings of 90% of the technology that surrounds them on a daily basis. That might even be generous, but the specifics of the numbers is irrelevant. The barrier to having technology isn't understanding any more, it's paying for it.

They don't really know how a fridge works. Their thermostat is a complete mystery. The workings of a radio is a complete unknown. A light switch makes the dark go away if the bulb isn't burned out. Traffic signals work, but they don't know why. A smart phone is just like that black thing grandma had with the dial, but you can send pictures and text -- that's about the extent of their understanding. They're not required to know anything more than that.

Your toaster analogy is apt -- since for most people, that's about the full extent of how much they will truly understand their smart phone. And, considering a lot of these location based services are less than 2-3 years old, it's not like there has been time for these issues to come to light. People just turn it on, push the pretty buttons, and go. When their friends start using something, they do to. They're not doing any reflecting on the issues of using that technology -- they're not even thinking of it as technology, it' a button. It's part of the phone. It's infrastructure and therefore largely invisible.

They completely lack a frame of reference to seriously ponder the fact that something which is "cool" or "popular" can have ramifications beyond what they have conceived of. Heck, they can't even conceive of the potential issues, since they don't know how it all works.

The reality is, we give more and more complex devices to people on a daily basis. Companies add new features they think their users will like, but the technology is so new, that sometimes even they haven't thought through the possible issues. Computers and technology have gotten into the mainstream far faster than a general understanding of how they work. Heck, I see 10-year old kids with phones -- I'm not even sure most of them are capable of understanding what is being said on the topic of privacy, or why it's important.

I'm just not convinced any more that you can lay all of this at the feet of the users and say it's their fault. I'm not saying we don't need better consumer education. But the pace of technology in our lives means that stuff is happening that most people will never be really 'informed' on all of these topics. I just don't think this is a simple "do this" kind of fix that makes it all go away -- it' way more complex than that.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590822)

You completely avoided his argument. He is arguing that while they do not need to understand how the device works, but they have to understand what it does and how to use it.

Do they know how a fridge works? No. Do they know what it does? Yes. Do they know how to use it? Yes. Do they know how a radio works? No. Do they know what it does? Yes. Do they know how to use it? Yes. Do they know how a light switch works? Maybe. Do they know what it does? Yes. Do they know how to use it? Yes. Do they know how a traffic signal works? Sort of. Do they know what a traffic signal does? yes. Do they know how to use them? Hopefully. Do they know how their smart phone works? No. Do they know how what their smartphone does? Sort of. Do they know how to use it? Some of it.

Do you see the problem, or should I continue?

Re:So... (1)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591258)

And this is all exactly what I view as being the problem. We keep giving people this cool new stuff with more and more ways to hurt themselves. Unfortunately, what should be common sense is not, and so people get caught by surprise. What we should be doing is explaining that this stuff is complex, it does a lot, you could run into trouble if you don't have a basic understanding of what it does. The smart phone equivalent of the previously mentioned toaster knowledge is more complex, because there's more there. We should be trying to take this stuff from things that should be common sense to things that actually are

That is easier said than done, of course. When done on a personal level, you run the risk of sounding like a pompous ass and then getting ignored. Coming from corporations or the like, it quite easily starts to sound like fear mongering and again gets ignored. It should be (again, should, but not is) the goal of those in the know, both technical enthusiasts/geeks and the companies creating these products, to try to make this happen, though.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591490)

And this is all exactly what I view as being the problem. We keep giving people this cool new stuff with more and more ways to hurt themselves. Unfortunately, what should be common sense is not, and so people get caught by surprise.

Well, it does go beyond that, though.

Think of how many stories we see about Facebook changing their settings so everyone is suddenly sharing everything and needs to explicitly opt out. Or, AT&T inadvertently leaking the email address of anyone with an iPad.

Sometimes, even the people driving the technology haven't considered all of the issues. So, expecting your average smart phone user to be well versed in all of the privacy stuff might be a little difficult. And, it can all change so fast, it's hard to keep up. (Who among us remembers it being an urban myth that you could get a virus from an email even if you never opened it? After telling relatives that was false, suddenly it became true one day.)

When done on a personal level, you run the risk of sounding like a pompous ass and then getting ignored. Coming from corporations or the like, it quite easily starts to sound like fear mongering and again gets ignored.

That's exactly my point -- John Q. Public is going to listen to alarmist stuff as the stuff of crackpots and fear mongering, and the completely tune out. They don't want to hear it, and they don't like being told that they're sheep who need to know more than they do -- it's considered rude. ;-)

Striking the balance between educating people and having companies make 'smart' choices with the end-user's welfare in mind is tough. Companies want to maximize their profits, so Facebook isn't well served by saying "well, our privacy settings are by default weak" you should change them, since they want to sell that stuff. They need your information to be as public as possible. Someone can trot out a new thing, and all of a sudden, you have something new to worry about.

I don't think there's an "easy" solution to this. It's a complex problem, and needs to be addressed from multiple angles. At present, the technology is more prevalent than a widespread understanding of the issues. I actually see this continuing to get worse as even more technology gets trotted out to consumers.

Re:So... (1)

NetNed (955141) | more than 4 years ago | (#32592338)

I think the more important thing that covers part of what you wrote is that people need to either realize the consequences of using such devices or not cry foul when these things come to light. They can turn it off in most cases. My iphone asks with every app if it's alright to use location services. I select allow or don't allow. If that is really that hard for a person to get, then maybe they shouldn't have a smart phone?

This is kind of like the ex-mayor of Detroit. He sends text messages on a city owned pager that shows he purger-ed himself on the stand in a suit that cost the city 8 million dollars. The texts were obtained under the freedom of information act and when that happened the paper posted the texts. It ended in him doing jail time (which he is back in prison again for parole violations) and him trying to sue for those texts getting out. It's a case of "becuase I was ignorant of the ramifications, they shouldn't have been able to get those texts" bull crap!

It's crying foul after getting caught, and it means very little then.

Re:So... (4, Interesting)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590650)

This is a fairly typical attitude among intelligent people, and is especially strong about their area of expertise. Unfortunately, in the real world, people are pretty much forced to use things they barely understand just to live a vaguely normal life. Many of these people simply do not have the mental capacity to address all the thing which they "should" understand. Even the most intelligent people are often dangerously ignorant in many areas (although they often fail to realise it).

No, to large extent it is up to the designers and overseers of complex (yet common) technology and systems that things behave in a relatively expected and benign way.

Re:So... (1)

hazah (807503) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591766)

OT, but...

I would argue that when an "intelligent" person that is "dangerously ignorant" is not an intelligent person.

In my short life thus far, I've found that the intelligent amongst us will readily admit their own shortcomings. I will not claim "intelligence" but will tell you quite sincerely that I hunt for my shortcomings mercilessly. That is because I hate being wrong in the literal sense. I would rather learn something new than have my convictions, so I hope that it is at least evident that I'm not talking about arrogance. Time and time again, on this forum, I've stfu simply because someone had enough insight to show me the error that I was making, and I could not be more thankful.

Again, OT, but... in retrospect, thank you all.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32592162)

I would argue that when an "intelligent" person that is "dangerously ignorant" is not an intelligent person.

Yes, they become the screeching howler monkeys that seem to mostly post here on Slashdot and are convinced they've solved everything -- and, no, I don't mean you.

An awful lot of Slashdotters claim to be uber smart, and then view the world through such a narrow lens as to be laughable. In some cases, it's the arrogance of youth. In other cases, it persists for most of their life.

If you're smart enough to know you don't know everything, that will serve you well -- humility can be a hard lesson to learn.

Re:So... (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590600)

Right, because god forbid people actually take some responsibility and find out what their phone is doing or who can see their Facebook profile.

When I got my Nexus One I saw it had Location functionality, played around with it, thought "It's probably not a good idea to be broadcasting this to the world 24/7" and turned it off again (it wasn't on by default anyway). In the same way that when I got the keys to my house and they had a tag on them with the address, I decided it was probably a smart idea to take the tag off.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter because nobody seems to care any more. They're quite happy to put all their private details, thoughts & photos on Facebook, set the profile to public and then set up their status to constantly update with their GPS co-ordinates and even when they *do* know about the potential consequences, they just don't seem at all concerned. If people aren't able to comprehend the risks of broadcasting their location to everyone, or simply don't care about them, then it doesn't matter how many articles are written about it.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590974)

Why is the Slashdot crowd so myopic about technology that they think all of these issues have been around for decades,

Some of these are actually quite new social and legal considerations. Acting like you've known this forever makes you sound like a smug idiot.

These concerns *have* been explored in science fiction and/or speculative fiction for decades. And that means the typical Slashdot reader has been aware of these issues for a long time.

That the rest of the population acts like no one has thought of this before is hardly our doing.

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

PatHMV (701344) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589992)

Not to go all insensitive clod on you, but.... When I was a kid, a member of my immediate family passed away. The newspaper printed the obituary and noted (against my dad's instructions) that the funeral would be in another town, in a distant part of the state. When we returned home several days later, we found that burglars had broken into the house while we were gone. Eventually it was confirmed that the burglars had read the obituaries, saw we would be out of town, and used that information to decide to rob us. So, there are very GOOD reasons for people who are doing nothing wrong to also not want the world at large to know their location.

Re:So... (0, Troll)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590182)

Hey, I think I saw that movie. Didn't you board the wrong plane a year later?

Re:So... (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32592112)

So, there are very GOOD reasons for people who are doing nothing wrong to also not want the world at large to know their location.

Ok, so don't tell the public and the problem is solved. Its not a technology issue in the least, its how its being used.

You missed a few (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590006)

Remember to turn off your phone before you:

  1. Leave your valuables unattended
  2. Do anything politically-related, such as attend a rally
  3. Buy things with so-called "anonymous" cash
  4. Make a phone call

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590416)

If only there were some kind of sense, possibly a common one, that would help avoid these nasty problems.

That's a great Quote. I just printed it in 36 pt font and put it up in my cube.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590754)

Do you even understand how these services work? I don't think so.

They don't follow you around. You specifically CHECK IN to a location. You do it yourself. The phone does not do it for you.

Big difference.

Remember to turn off location when (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590916)

- Going to an adult store
- Going to a certain kind of physician
- Going to women's reproductive/abortion clinic
- Going to your place of worship
- Going to various human rights (Gay rights) events
- Going anywhere that is not "normal" (Want to take a peaceful stroll in the forest by your home for a change? -- Sure you can but you will have some explaining to do)

Re:So... (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#32592284)

If only there were some kind of sense, possibly a common one, that would help avoid these nasty problems.

Or here's a novel idea.. don't break the law, cheat on your spouse, or skip school.

If only there were some kind of decency, possibly a common one, that would help avoid these nasty problems.

Safer summer fun again? (2, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589884)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2146807/Facebook-dipping-craze-irks-pool-owners.html [telegraph.co.uk]
Now you can identify homes that have large outdoor pools, track their owners for a while and wait.
When the air horn blasts the owner is on their way back home.

Re:Safer summer fun again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590176)

There's no place like 127.0.0.1.

Re:Safer summer fun again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590542)

There's no place like ... localhost?

I think that you mean: There's no place like ~

Re:Safer summer fun again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591136)

So that's what that world cup horn nonsense was all about?

If the Government is Big Brother... (1)

Midnight's Shadow (1517137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589888)

then these services are the creepy stalker that follows you around in case you leave your blinds open.

Bottom line, if you are going to do something you don't want anyone to know about, don't use these services, leave the cell phone at home and pay everything in cash!

Breaking News! (1, Funny)

dward90 (1813520) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589896)

A new study finds that location-broadcasting applications broadcast the location of the user.

Nothing to see here.

Re:Breaking News! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32589972)

Apparently, it's only a privacy concern when people who don't seem to care about their privacy start using it.

Simple fix (1)

jjcushen (1637385) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589898)

Just turn off GPS when you are not using it. If you need to use navigation, turn it back on.

As a plus, it helps save some battery life.

Re:Simple fix (3, Informative)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589908)

A lot of phones will offer location information using cell towers if GPS isn't available. It's not as accurate, but it's "close enough" for most purposes.

Re:Simple fix (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590024)

Many phones will also determine location via nearby wi-fi access points.

If you don't want people to know where you are, don't use the services.

Re:Simple fix (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590490)

Also, every single mobile phone is exposing its location to the network. If you're really paranoid, stick it in flight mode, turn it off or leave it at home.

and with cell tower triangulation (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591864)

its almost as accurate as gps

Re:Simple fix (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590436)

I don't think you can do that. You can turn it off for applications, but I don't believe that it's completely deactivated. If I'm not mistaken, it's still available to the carrier and to 911 should you call it. Which depending upon the situation might be exactly the people you don't want to know where you are. Which really defeats the purpose of deactivating it. Even before phones came with software for GPS use, phones were already being shipped with GPS. I had a Samsung several years back, which had GPS, all it was for was 911 calls and signal quality. Not sure why they needed GPS for that, but I did notice that my cell reception mysteriously got much worse whenever I'd turn it off.

Need locational anonymity scheme (1)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589918)

There must be a way to get the location services you want, like finding the local Krispy-Kreme, without broadcasting your location to the service in question. Like a blocked phone number.

Re:Need locational anonymity scheme (2, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590000)

There must be a way to get the location services you want, like finding the local Krispy-Kreme, without broadcasting your location to the service in question. Like a blocked phone number.

Yes, Always use a disposable phone. Brought for cash. Use it only once. That's what Uncle Osama tells me.

Re:Need locational anonymity scheme (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590450)

And fifteen minutes later, the DHS responds bundling Chrisq up to whatever black site they're currently using for being an al-Qaeda operative.

Re:Need locational anonymity scheme (3, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590522)

There must be a way to get the location services you want, like finding the local Krispy-Kreme, without broadcasting your location to the service in question. Like a blocked phone number.

The services mentioned here are only those that you explicitly run that you give permission to broadcast your location. Google Latitude, for example, will show your location on Google Maps to everyone you give permission to show it to.

It's not just your GPS that can get you in trouble, but your own stupidity can do just as well of a job. An example would be taking a picture a of a well known foreign landmark while vacationing and posting it on your Facebook page with the caption, "Look at what I saw today".

It's also a good idea to NOT geo-tag your photos if you take them of anyplace you don't want people to know the location of, like your living room in front of your new big screen TV and pile of cash.

Location spoofing (1)

Thats_Pipe (837838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589936)

Of course, one can always spoof their location. Maybe I'll start using using Twitter to announce my all-day shopping sprees and then sit in the bushes outside waiting to catch any potential burglars... or get shot by said burglars.

Re:Location spoofing (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589996)

or a sneak and peek warrant

truism headlines on a science site... (0, Offtopic)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32589962)

eating food lowers hunger

Latitude (3, Informative)

dandart (1274360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590010)

Latitude (sort of) solves this problem by only sending location data to approved friends and only when you want it to. Now all you have to worry about is untrustworthy friends.

untrustworthy friends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590086)

Just remember that "untrustworthy" isn't merely an adjective describing people's motivations and honesty. It also includes (lack of) technical expertise. Somebody out there is running all that malware -- is it somebody that you know?

Re:untrustworthy friends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590288)

Simple: Don't have any friends that use Windows.

I use Latitude (I think I'll omit my share link), but the only people I've sent the link to use Mac's exclusively.

If you hang around with people that are at high risk for infection, you may ultimately increase your own risk.

Re:Latitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590148)

No person or service is 'trustworthy' in case of a subpoena.

Re:Latitude (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590216)

Facebook tagging of pictures and posting of your name has shown us just how little you should trust your friends.

Wallpos by Samt: "Brian you were so wasted Thursday!"
Brian has been tagged in a photo: BarffestatNochinosClubThursdaynight.jpg"
"Hey Brian, it's your boss. I notice you called in sick on Friday. You were probably at home all day. You should stay there Monday, too, just to make sure you're over your "illness." In fact, considering your illness is a complete lack of work ethic, you should stay home indefinately."
Brian </3 Sam.

Re:Latitude (1)

dandart (1274360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590312)

That's why you should never add or accept your boss as a "friend"! Simple!

Re:Latitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590760)

Wrong: your boss can be friend with Sam...

Re:Latitude (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591320)

actually, in the case given, he could be a friend of a friend of Sam if Sam has his posts and photo uploads set to "friends of friends". All the incriminating stuff was posted by Sam, not Brian. And anyone in that chain can (a friend of a friend of Sam) can potentially make the information more visible depending on their settings and Sam's settings.

Location "Services" are Ripe for Misuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590092)

Sure, it's great to let a few friends know where you're at, or what you're doing. But imagine how this can be misused by totalitarian governments that are keen on knowing what the 'opposition' is doing and where they are.

Think back to recent examples of opposition movement using twitter, email, and IM to organize rallies and protests. Malevolent government operatives could have used location services to track down and quash, with extreme prejudice, any sort of opposing activities.

Location services. I'll not be using them.

Re:Location "Services" are Ripe for Misuse (1)

siride (974284) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590204)

I assume opposition movements wouldn't be publishing their locations on the internet for all to see...

Re:Location "Services" are Ripe for Misuse (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590468)

If you are trying to organize a rally to demonstrate political dissent, publishing your location is somewhat the point.

This really isn't such a big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32590110)

Simply don't have location services on unless you need them, and even if you do, don't allow people to access these location services unless you want them to know. Can it be done? Of course it can be done.

Note: Telephone operators already know what cell phone tower(s) you are in range of, they also know signal strength. If you're in range of multiple towers, your position can be narrowed down to a small area. If the law does not protect you from them handing out your location data where you live, you should worry about that first - it can be done without your consent or special technical capability of your handset (GPS and co).

If your using a location service.. and tweeting (1)

jabbathewocket (1601791) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590144)

that your out with your girlfriend.. you deserve what you get in a divorce proceeding.. not sure how thats a privacy issue tbh... Hell just having an iphone and your wife knowing how to do "find my iphone" is more than enough for you to get caught?

Besides a civil suit is still a legal proceeding and is really no different from having coworkers or others subpoenaed for a civil case? It just seems to me this is more an issue of "use your tools and toys in an aware/responsible manner" than any inherent privacy issue?

You can always throw off the criminals (1)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590324)

You can always throw off the criminals by providing false data. At Tuesday, 3PM, User tweets "Gee golly, I hope my pet tiger doesn't trigger those bear traps I left hanging from the ceiling whenever the heat sensor detects human presence."

Why Use Them At All (1)

MrTripps (1306469) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590404)

ZOMG! A service people sign up with to keep track of where they are keeps track of people where they are! How devious! Really, I don't see what benefit these services actually offer. Do I really need my phone telling the world about each time I get coffee? Same with tweeting. It may ease your ADHD and feed your ego for a couple of seconds, but other then that it is useless.

This has all played out before (3, Interesting)

Abalamahalamatandra (639919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590510)

Back in the early days of APRS (Automatic Position Reporting System?), the ham radio community was happily mounting GPS trackers in their cars and sending their position out for convenient viewing on APRS screens. It was fun.

Then Steve Dimse came along and started getting these position reports from the Internet to APRS gateways, making them available on a Java applet for anyone to see, and archiving them. People were more than a little bit unhappy at the time, but I think the consensus that was finally reached was "If you have a problem with that, turn off your tracker!".

I think the same applies here. The info is public, you should know it's public, so if you don't want it to be public, don't send it out.

Woof. (1)

elrod (21611) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590594)

Just because I'm not home doesn't mean my Rottweiler isn't there.

The joy of it all (1)

baomike (143457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32590604)

Look at the bright side, you not only get to give away your personal info/location
you get to pay to have this done.

Cell phones are such a wonderful invention.

Not that accurate, maybe in the future... (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591244)

Latitude on the android isn't that accurate. Maybe in the future this will be an issue, right now its off by several miles and the refresh rate on peoples location can be off by as much as a day. In the future when they become more accurate and log location over time, then this might become an issue. As posted in one of the first post in this thread, if you don't want your location known, leave your phone at home.

User Error (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32592096)

If you are posting your location in real time on some web page, its your own damned fault if you get robbed.

As far as subpoenaing the info, what is he point of complaining? They could just have a PI tail you and have that entered into the court records. If you are doing something wrong and it involves location, how about turn it off before you go?

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