Privacy and benefits of location data

Privacy and benefits of location data

Apple and Google are facing class-action lawsuits over alleged consumer location data collection without taking consumers into confidence.

Apple defends itself saying it does not track the locations users of its iPhones and iPads, but it admits that it keeps a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around a user’s location to allow the users to know his/her location more accurately.

Google is also suffering similar allegations. Two Michigan women, Julie Brown and Kayla Molaski, dragged the web search giant to a court, accusing Google’s Android of collecting information about users’ locations without permission.

Google also admits that it collects location data like GPS location, nearby Wi-Fi network, but stresses that such information is not traceable to a particular individual. Android users can disable the GPS feature, but then they will not be able to reap all the benefits of location-based services.

Experts are of the view that whenever companies gather a considerable amount of information about consumers, some scrutiny is necessary and basic rules must apply.

Speaking on the issue, privacy & security researcher Ashkan Soltani said, “The key is to do this in a way where consumers have awareness and control over it.”

Legislators and the courts are expected to base their verdicts on the blend of a reasonable understanding of the technology, and a weighing of the advantages against any potential disadvantages.