The Business-Technology Weave

Apr 22 2011   10:16AM GMT

Uh Oh: Google and Apple are Collecting Information about YOU

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


I don’t use an iPhone, and my use of Google is strictly in my home, as opposed to using it on my particular “smartphone” – brand and model to remain unmentioned, at least for the moment.


I’m not too worried about these recent revelations that Apple and Google are noting, collecting, and transmitting back to base a record of users’ locations.


There are sound business reasons for noting, and tracking, users’ locations.  As but a couple examples:  By knowing where you are, these entities can deliver targeted, location-specific, search results.  You might be searching for specific retailers, or locations that offer specific products, and Apple and Google each have a business interest in supplying you with best information:  either reputation is enhanced when they can deliver ever-better targeted results.


A great case for tracking is made in delivering traffic information:  If a particular phone is moving down the road at an acceptable pace, a smartphone can report smooth sailing.  If a preponderance of phones are relatively fixed on a point, in proximity of a road, and any particular phone is requesting traffic info, it would be prudent for the phone to warn of possible congestion (as but one factor in any phone’s reportage of such events).


However, realize that just last year, Google shut down one element of its data collection efforts (StreetView) when it discovered it was “inadvertently” collecting personal information such as e-mail addresses and passwords! 


Now, what is the downside in Apple’s and Google’s (and others) collection of location (and possibly other) information?


Consider:  Even today, entire families carry phones.  10-year-old kids have their own phones; in the future, it’s likely that everyone is going to be “carrying.”  If a nefarious entity was to breach their way to live-time updates of a family’s location, it wouldn’t be too difficult to ascertain when everyone was out of the house.  An empty home presents a nice target for burgling.  In a week or two’s time, someone could know each member of a household’s entire schedule.  Perhaps even more frightening:  A breaching entity could determine when the home was occupied by only a child – and this liability is too large to leave to chance.  Lest anyone think this is over-active thinking, realize that the only way threats are held in abeyance is through active survey of possibilities, and the institution of prudent security measures.  Know what your service providers are doing.


In other words, don’t laugh:  Far stranger things transpire every day.  And as data becomes more universally applied to individuals and their respective lives, it will not only be enhancing:  It will present large liabilities that need to be managed.  You’ve heard me say, for business: 


            In the realm of risk, unmanaged possibilities become probabilities. 


Well now, for the undeniable Personal-Technology Weave that our lives have become, we can well see the looming and growing liabilities.  Any person should exercise a proactive security posture.  When procuring new devices and associated services, be sure to look through security’s prism:  Ask questions, review contracts, and… read associated articles, reports and blogs in staying abreast of what’s being done in the name of your (personal) domain. 


Stay safe out there…


On this day:  In 1967, actor Tom Conway died.  Considered a “B-movie” actor, I love his portrayal of “The Falcon” in that series of ‘40s quasi-film-noir movies.  Check ‘em out.








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