We all love our smart devices that latch onto anything so we can surf the internet, do e-mail, and basically roam at will with our handy mobile devices. A bonus of this is the idea that we can also share our GPS coordinates with people through games like Foursquare and other programs that keep track of where we are to send better ads, or make sure we do not get lost.
Over the last two weeks there has been a lot of news about how GPS is becoming a new tool with Law Enforcement to determine where you go and how long you are gone. What is a greater part of the security theater we participate in is that if you are pulled over in Michigan your mobile device will be read by the police in the course of a normal stop for any reason. The question I have is when and where do we draw limits on what law enforcement can do with warrantless access to GPS information?
Given that Apple, Microsoft and Google can track users based on their location, what protections should consumers have on how that data should be used? Since the police and the federal government can scan your cell phone at will if you get pulled over, how dangerous is tracking information on your mobile devices?
Wired ran a particularly poignant article on this today about the FBI using GPS data, and the 4th amendment as to what constitutes a reasonable search.
The use of GPS tracking devices is poised to become one of the most contentious privacy issues before the Supreme Court, should the high court agree to hear an appeal filed by the Obama administration last month. The administration is seeking to overturn a ruling by a lower court that law enforcement officials must obtain a warrant before using a tracker. Source: Wired.com
I am hoping that you will join in the discussion, because this should be interesting to see what we as a community thinks about the use of positional data because law enforcement, the government and others can.
Of course there is a darker side to all this, especially with domestic abuse. What happens when an abusive spouse, stalker, or otherwise can get their hands on your location data? This can lead to an explosive situation that has yet to be tested in the courts, but it is also trivial to get this information off mobile devices as we synch them to our computers.
The question is: What do we do, how do we protect people, and is location data truly something that should be kept safe?