Posts tagged ‘location tracking’

Privacy and Big Data: An Update is in the Works and We Want Your Input!

By Mary Ludloff

In July of 2011, Terence and I were doing our day jobs (which in startup-land is way more than 8 hours) and working on “Privacy and Big Data” during the evenings and weekends. It was, by all accounts (at least according to our friends and family), a lovely summer and we missed most of it! We spent “our” July, August, and September combing through research, studies, media reports, blogs (we stopped counting the number of pages when we got to 4,000) to put together a book that was our humble attempt to cover the full spectrum of the privacy landscape:

  • Our rights and expectations of privacy historically and in the digital age.
  • The current “state” of privacy regulations here (U.S.) and abroad.
  • The players (governments, industries, movements, and companies) that have a stake in the privacy debate and their often contentious and competing agendas.

(more…)

July 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm 2 comments

On Privacy: The Supreme Court Finally Got It Right!

By Mary Ludloff

Today is a landmark day for those of us concerned about privacy as it applies to our government agencies. In United States v. Jones the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police must have a search warrant before using GPS tracking devices to surveil criminal suspects. While all justices agreed that the tracking device placed on Jone’s jeep violated the Fourth Amendment’s unreasonable search and seizure protection, the justices were divided on how far the ruling should have gone. Justices Alito, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan said that “the court should have gone further and dealt with GPS tracking of wireless devices, like mobile phones.”

While I agree that the ruling did not go far enough, it certainly is a sign that the court understands that technology capabilities aside, we (all citizens) do have a right to privacy within the vehicles we operate and that placing a GPS tracking device on a vehicle requires a search warrant. I must confess that I have been poring over the oral arguments and trying to figure out which way the court would rule, but felt that it was too close to call. So while the rest of the world was focused on SOPA and PIPA last week (my esteemed co-blogger included), I was anxiously awaiting the court’s ruling. And thankfully, as a card carrying member of the high tech community and American citizen, it was well worth the wait! (more…)

January 23, 2012 at 11:40 am Leave a comment

McKinsey Study: Location, Location, Location, Part 2

By Mary Ludloff

Greetings one and all and happy new year! As promised, part 2 of my post on McKinsey’s drill-down into the tremendous benefits location data offers to new businesses (and business models) as well as to all of us. If you need to refresh your memory (since the author was a wee bit late in meeting her stated publishing date), part 1 is available here.  Certainly, the report, “Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity,” is chock full of illuminating ways that big data can be leveraged within specific industries, but personal location data is a somewhat different beast as it cuts across  industries. For example, telecom, retail, and media (through location-based advertising) all stand to reap tremendous rewards.

Now, as I said in part 1 and will state again in part 2: I have a bit of angst around the collection and use of personal location data (see my many posts on privacy or our book on “Privacy and Big Data”). But that does not negate what can be gained if it is properly collected and used and with the appropriate regulations and guidance in place (my gosh—I am beginning to sound like one of the privacy policies I hate to read!). Put simply: all company’s data collection and usage policies should be clearly stated and always offered on an opt-in basis. Okay, privacy issues have been dealt with so let’s move on! (more…)

January 9, 2012 at 8:23 pm 2 comments

Why I Dislike GPS Tracking (and My SmartPhone): Wired’s Article on Telecoms’ Retention of Personal Data

 By Mary Ludloff

Before I begin, I must admit my own personal bias: I have a love/hate relationship with personal devices and technology. Yes, I love that all the devices I now use have made my life so much easier in more ways than I can count (and keep track of). At the same time, I really do hate how much more information is captured about me and how there are so few regulations regarding the use of it. Now, if you read our (Terence and I co-authored) book on Privacy and Big Data or listened to our recent O’Reilly webcast you might not be surprised by this but, just in case, I needed to come clean before I dived into Wired’s article on how much data our major mobile providers are keeping about all of us. Put simply, it’s a lot.

The ACLU of North Carolina managed, under a Freedom of Information Act claim, to obtain a Department of Justice document entitled “Retention Periods of Major Cellular Service Providers.” This document (one page) was designed to help law enforcement agencies understand what information they could get from the major cellular service providers—Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T/Cingular, Sprint, Nextel, Virgin Mobile—as well as how long that data was retained:

“Verizon, for example, keeps a list of everyone you’ve exchanged text messages with for the past year, according to the document. But T-Mobile stores the same data up to five years. It’s 18 months for Sprint, and seven years for AT&T… That makes Verizon appear to have the most privacy-friendly policy. Except that Verizon is alone in retaining the actual contents of text messages. It allegedly stores the messages for five days, while T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint don’t store them at all.”

(more…)

September 30, 2011 at 3:03 pm 1 comment

Location Tracking: Why You Should Care (Hint: It’s All About the Aggregation)

By Mary Ludloff

Recent update added to the end of this post.

Do you ever read tweets or Facebook walls and say to yourself, “TMI?” Do you ever wonder why people check in to Foursquare? You know, I have developed quite an affection for Twitter as an information source (and it did not begin well). In fact, it has replaced my Google news alerts and Feedburner news feed as my primary source of news and information. That being said, I find myself marveling at how some of the people I “follow” feel the need to tweet their every move:

  • Having coffee at Starbucks on name-of-street, in name-of-city.
  • Shopping at name-of-mall in name-of-city, in name-of-state.
  • Name-of-airline flight number delayed. Stuck in name-of-airport at gate number.
  • Off to name-of-city for a 5-day conference.

And I worry about them. Not about their egos (that’s another post) folks, but more about their safety. Maybe it’s because I am a woman (I can hear some of you crying “sexist”), but letting someone know where I am or where I’m not seems like I am inviting trouble. For example: if you know I am not at home, I could be burglarized or if you know where I am, I could be followed. Paranoid? Maybe, but if you’ve ever been stalked or otherwise threatened you know what I am talking about. (more…)

April 19, 2011 at 9:47 am 9 comments

Data Security, Privacy, and Your Mobile Phone

By Mary Ludloff

 As we’ve blogged about topics such as data privacy, security breaches, and the like, we often get the following comment: is there anything I can do to protect myself? You know, most companies like ours are “good privacy and security citizens” and we adhere to, and often surpass, privacy regulations and guidelines. However, just like always, there are companies and individuals who try to “game” the system (and even some who unwittingly cause problems through lack of knowledge). One of our goals is to keep you, the consumer, informed about what you can do to protect yourself from data security breaches that may lead to data privacy breaches.  This is why I would like to talk to you about your cell phone. (more…)

March 7, 2011 at 11:34 am 8 comments


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