Geolocation Technology; Please Stalk and Rob Me
Technology is meant to make life easier, safer and in some cases fun-er. Geolocation is supposed to make you save a few bucks on discounts when you “check in” at participating retail stores and gather “points”. It is also supposed to tell your friends and followers via geo-tagging that you just snapped a photo somewhere. However there is nothing “safe” about this technology.
Geolocation can be used on a PC but is primarily used with a mobile phone. The geolocation software gets its data from your PCs IP address or your phones GPS longitude and latitude. It’s actually a nifty “tool” and a smart use of available technologies.
Some companies have even adopted the technology calling it “GPS Dating” for singles on the dating scene and help a person find someone local to them whenever and wherever. These same sites have photos and descriptions of the person which makes it that much easier to “find” the person. I did a spot on Good Morning America here discussing the security implications of GPS Dating.
With geolocation, the value in this technology for the bad guy is to determine where you are and where you are not. They can get a full profile of your itinerary all day every day. Someone who is paying unwanted attention to you gets every address you are at when you “check in”.
Extreme problems arising with these technologies as they pertain to GPS are with women in domestic violence situations when the woman heads to a shelter; the first thing the shelter does is take the battery out of the phone and/or turn it off so the abuser doesn’t show up at the shelter.
Thieves use geolocation to determine if you are home or not then use that data to plan a home burglary. I had a chance to appear on the CBS Early Show to discuss a gelocation site that revealed ones location away from home and its impact on personal security.
Stalkers who use the phones GPS are usually someone close to the victim like a family member or ex- boyfriend/girlfriend that has the capability of turning on tracking. If you suspect your phone’s GPS has been activated by the carrier then call to find out. If you don’t’ like the feature turned on, request it be turned off or shut it off in your phone.
The bottom line is geolocation could pose a privacy threat. Information collected through geolocation is particularly sensitive, since it can allow an adult or child to be physically contacted wherever he or she is, at any time.