Precise location data from apps allows enterprises to know exactly where you were yesterday. And, potentially everyday dating back to 2009, writes The New York Times. At least 75 different apps collect this type of data, and some may collect it as often as 14,000 times per day.
The data is stored in such a way that individual user identities are obfuscated, but as The New York Times explains, it’s easy to demystify the data. All it takes is one disgruntled employee, and the raw data could see the light of day, exacting ruinous consequences on people’s lives; particularly the lives of high-profile individuals.
In terms of solicitation to third parties, despite the removal of names, third party purchasers could potentially tag locations to individuals using a phone book.
In an attempt to clarify the privacy issues at stake, the US Congress has addressed a bi-partisan letter to Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, to inquire about “Sensorvault,” a database that houses location information belonging to hundreds of millions of consumers.
“The potential ramifications for consumer privacy are far-reaching and concerning when examining the purposes for the Sensorvault database and how precise location information could be shared with third parties,” wrote the congressional representatives.
Will this inquiry come in the nick of time, or will it be too little, too late? We’ll find out soon. Lawmakers have requested for Google to provide written information by May 7th, and a briefing by May 10th.
Don’t want to continue giving Google access to your location? PC Magazine offers a set of step-by-step instructions explaining how to restore your privacy.
Get the full story about the legislative initiatives from The Hill, and learn more about the data privacy discussion at The New York Times.