A few downsides to smart phones tracking your location – Worried yet?

What could be the problem with your phone keeping track of your location and sending that to Apple or Google?

What if someone hacks the Apple or Google site?  Or hacks your phone?  Or merely gains physical access to your phone for a few minutes to grab the file that has the tracking data?

“I’m not breaking the law” I hear your say.  Fine.  Let’s consider a few other scenarios.

Pattern tracking. Keep in mind location tracking will show where you were at what time of the day on what day of the week for however many months that feature has been functioning on your phone.  That allows someone with the data to identify patterns in your life. That is where danger arises.

Custody dispute. We read of horrible things happening. Knowing the interests of family members and looking at the pattern of locations will hint of the new place where you drop off your daughter for dance lessons and where your son goes for Cub Scout meetings.  The patterns also show whether you wait (which shows your home is empty), go back home (which means your child is vulnerable), or you run errands (a two-fer – your home is empty and your child is vulnerable).

Burglary/kidnapping.  If you have enough wealth, or appear to have a lot, someone could electronically stake out your home or children to see the patterns and possible times to strike.

Stalker. In any scenario where someone is hassling you or wants to cause you harm, that tracking data would be invaluable. Picture a crazy ex-spouse, crazy former girlfriend/boyfriend, or a crazy person who in their craziness you somehow offended. Those people could easily have had a few minutes unrestricted access to your phone.

Job search. Before you give notice, it might not be good for your employer to know you are visiting the office building of your main competitor.

Customer list. In some businesses, your customer list is very private. And valuable. If you go to your client’s office regularly, then the tracking data could paint a picture of your entire client base.

Opposition research. In the political world, the people trying to destroy you might like to find out what doctors you are visiting, where your staff are setting up your next major event, upscale residential addresses visited occasionally (those would be your biggest donors), or what counseling centers your senior staff visit.

People on the receiving end of reporter’s stories. Politicians you are investigating and businesses whose underhanded schemes you just revealed might be really, really interested in where you’ve been. That could tell them your sources and maybe your next steps.

Worried yet?

Previous post suggested we should start paying attention to privacy issues. Even more serious implications in my next post.

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