Wednesday, September 27, 2017

They know when you go to the bathroom

"He's in the john."
The GPS chip in your smartphones can place your location within 9 to 15 feet, but beginning next year GPS could be much more precise. A new GPS chip has an accuracy of 30 centimeters -- less than a foot. 

The chip works in a city’s concrete canyons. This will be a boon to people in dense urban areas where the wide gamut of current GPS location data can make it hard to pinpoint, for example, what street corner you are standing on at a four-way intersection. 

Here's why you should not welcome this.

The National Security Agency 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 as a number of studies have shown, even when it’s “anonymous,” stripped of so-called personally identifiable information, geographic data can help create a detailed portrait of a person and, with enough ancillary data, identify them by name.
In one demonstration of this, the writer Di Pangburn contacted Gilad Lotan, vice president of BuzzFeed’s data science team. He agreed to look at a month’s worth of two different users’ anonymized location data, and to come up with individual profiles.

He easily determined the complete identity of one of them.

Right now the location data is granular–latitude and longitude to within five, six, or seven spaces after the decimal place, so a few feet or meters in terms of accuracy of location.

The granular information provided by GPS data can also show where in their house a person tends to spend their time, says Lotan. One of the "anonymous" people in the experiment lingered in the backyard.

So with the new chip next year ...

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