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What Real-time Location Data Says About You

What Real-time Location Data Says About You

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The combination of real-time location data and the context of what’s around your location, says as much about you as social media. If you’re in a park, the metadata from your phone gives the same view into your location as an Instagram photo.

Mobile applications with access to your current location data have numerous benefits such as finding nearby restaurants on Yelp or helping you understand directions in Google Maps. But no one wants to be just a blue dot on a map without understanding how that information is being used. The first time I tested to location-based service Highlight, I was still at home and was connected to a stranger with 5 shared contacts across the street from me in the park.

When developing mobile marketing plans, location data is becoming increasingly more accessible and accurate. A home wifi connected tablet user is in a very different purchasing mode than a customer connected to McDonald’s wifi network. Advertisers are starting to choose the way they reach mobile consumers and in what mobile mindset real-time messaging makes sense.

Location data derived directly from carriers has a unique view into our daily lives. Location affinity for spending your evenings in San Francisco’s Marina district and your days in Palo Alto, CA, might suggest a privileged individual who lives in San Francisco and works in Palo Alto. The nearby retailers at Stanford’s Shopping Center might want to exclusively retarget your mobile device during lunch hours or try to reach you before you rush home to the city. An affluent lifestyle might also be linked to device type such as a brand new Samsung Galaxy S4. Similarly, carrier discrimination between potentially low income MetroPCS customers versus AT&T or Verizon adds an erie level of user targeting. As modern LTE networks add more granular location capabilities and indoor monitors log our actions as we move around retail spaces, the connections between perversive location is increasingly becoming a measure our personal life choices.

The good news is that advertising and consumer regulation require disclosures of how our location information is attributed. Real-time location monitoring of personally identifiable individuals by government officials still requires a search warrant if you’re a American Citizen. Unfortunately, the logs of your location data history from last week or even over the last year are not considered your personal property by the United States Government. Regulated by the FCC and subjects of the secret FISA court, the U.S. Government surveillance system collects your metadata from Verizon and AT&T to make judgements about what your location data really says about you, free from any right of choice.

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