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Monday, November 27, 2017


DJ Pangburn writing in recaps how many phone apps are giving data hunters (not to mention hackers) location identification of individuals.  By knowing only four geographical data points from your personal traits your privacy is totally compromised.

Pangburn says in 2013, researchers at MIT and the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium published a paper reporting on 15 months of study of human mobility data for over 1.5 million individuals. What they found is that only four spatio-temporal points are required to “uniquely identify 95% of the individuals.” The researchers concluded that there was very little privacy even in raw location data. Four years later, their calls for policies rectifying concerns about location tracking have fallen largely on deaf ears.

How can this be?

Pangburn writes “When Edward Snowden blew the lid off of the NSA’s mass surveillance program, he also revealed the extent of the government’s smartphone location tracking records. As the Washington Post reported in 2013, the NSA is gathering 5 billion records a day on people’s cell-phone locations across the globe in order to track terrorists and identify their associates. While the U.S. must often take the data surreptitiously, however, advertisers are already getting many of our locations legally, through our smartphone apps; mining that and other data fuels the billion-dollar businesses of some of the world’s largest companies.”

And, the biggest clue data miners can always rely on in identifying a person is simply the fact home mortgage data is public.

That’s why Moe’s Curtain Rods Co. is the first to send you a pitch letter saying “welcome to your new home.  If you’re thinking about curtain rods keep us in mind.”

That simple message is a privacy compromise using our mortgage records and the U.S. Mail.  For how your mortgage is anti-privacy read DJ Pangburn’s complete article in Fast Company.  Click here.

And, that was data mining even before Edward Snowden.   So, see Eddie you weren’t so smart after all and with smartphones and location using apps it has taken data mining to new levels—legally.   Snowden is nothing more than a guy standing on the corner shouting “the guy driving that red car just ran the red light—somebody give him a ticket!”

Let’s go back to writer DJ Pangburn.  He’s important because he knows his stuff on tracking devices.  He is a writer and editor with bylines at Vice, Motherboard, Creators, Dazed & Confused and The Quietus.  He’s also a pataphysician, psychogeographer and filmmaker.

Here’s what Pangburn wrote in on how to disable tracking location on your cell phone:

How to Disable Location Tracking

Android Users: To disable location tracking on an Android device, go to Settings. Scroll down and tap Location, then switch the slider to the off position. This, however, will turn off all location tracking so that apps like Google Maps or even Uber or Lyft won’t work. To control location tracking with more granularity, go into each app through the App Manager and turn off location tracking. Android Users can also delete their device’s location history.

iOS Users: Navigate to Settings, then scroll down and tap on Privacy, then tap on Location Services. At this point users can disable location tracking wholesale by toggling the slider to off. Alternatively, this Location Services lists all apps that use location tracking, allowing users to control which apps have access to location and when. Users can either select “Never” or “While Using the App.”

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