You’ve never heard the term before? Well, here’s what it is according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF): “Locational privacy (also known as “location privacy”) is the ability of an individual to move in public space with the expectation that under normal circumstances their location will not be systematically and secretly recorded for later use.”
In what ways could you be located and your location recorded? For one thing, security cameras have become ubiquitous; they’re in every parking garage, convenience store, liquor store, bank, ATM machines, you name it. In some cities your passage is recorded by taking a snapshot of your vehicle license plate as you move through traffic intersections. The EFF notes notes that “…systems which create and store digital records of people’s movements through public space [are being] woven inextricably into the fabric of everyday life. We are already starting to see such systems now, and there will be many more in the near future.
“Here are some examples you might already [be using] or have read about:
- Monthly transit swipe-cards
- Electronic tolling devices (FastTrak, EZpass, congestion pricing)
- Services telling you when your friends are nearby
- Searches on your PDA for services and businesses near your current location
- Free Wi-Fi with ads for businesses near the network access point you’re using
- Electronic swipe cards for doors
- Parking meters you can call to add money to, and which send you a text message when your time is running out”
Perhaps you’ve heard about the new rage in apps that post your location to Twitter or Facebook. One of those is My Latitude, an application that lets you publish your Google Latitude position in your profile page. This is accomplished using the Google Latitude Public Badge. There’s another called Android Location Services for those phones.
If you’re using any of those, you’re losing your locational privacy. What to do about it? I’ll cover that in Part 2.