Location data

Photo by henry perks on Unsplash

Are you aware of how many applications you granted access to your location data?

I gave a quick look at my iPhone privacy setting for localization. It was a surprise. A bunch of applications always have access to my location data. Some are strictly related to my home automation system, and some are not. Many applications only have access to my location data when in use.

This permission thing is something that builds up over time. You download an application and give it access to your location data because you think it’s a good idea. Months later, you find you granted access to a truckload of applications.

Am I fully aware of how these companies are using this location data? No, I am not. I never went through the Terms and Conditions of each application I use.

Guilty as charged.

Yes, but I have some rights as a user. Well, it seems that it is not the case.

Considering how the Constitution covers user rights in the United States, we know that the Fourth Amendment protects people.

Here’s what it says:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

United States citizens may consider themselves safe.

No, they can’t.

There are companies out there that sell location data to law enforcement agencies without the need for a warrant. They spent a massive amount of money to get this data.

The question is: how do these companies get this data?

We don’t know. We deliberately gave users the right to collect, use, and sell that data. It was our mistake.

Some companies may fraudulently collect this data. We don’t know if this is the case.

My take is that if the Constitution is not able to protect our rights efficiently, there is something horribly wrong in the system.

In some way, we Europeans are a little bit more protected, thanks to GDPR regulations, but I think abuses may still exist.

We are not safe.

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