Archives for posts with tag: location privacy

Apple and Google released a joint specification that allows both iPhones and Android devices to do contact tracing on a global scale. Even though “privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance”, this is a game changing event that has grave consequences. We must stop Apple and Google in their tracks. Or else ditch our smartphones as they will truly become the Stasi agents in our pockets.

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In an effort to monitor or control the spread of COVID-19 (aka the Corona virus), countries have turned to invasive forms of surveillance based on the location data that mobile telephone operators collect of their users. This is not only happening in China or South Korea, but also in Israel and even Germany, Austria and Italy. The details differ per country.

In this blog (long) post I want to describe the current ways in which location data is being used to fight the spread of COVID-19, discuss why this worries me for the future, and describe some technological options for more controlled, privacy conscious tracking of infected people. (I hesitate to write privacy friendly in this context.)

If you prefer, there is also a pdf version that you can read.

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Last sunday, journalists from The Correspondent revealed that it was trivially easy to find the names and addresses of military and intelligence service personnel that use Polar, a popular runners wearable and fitness app. All runs (even private ones) made by owners of a Polar fitness device are stored on a central server, and can be viewed on a map. Even though the user interface restricted access to only public runs, bypassing the user interface and entering URLs manually allowed them to extract all runs made by anyone since 2014. Polar switched off access to the map recently to prevent further abuse of this. What can we learn from this incident?
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During a recent presentation in our Privacy Seminar I realised there are actually two types of location privacy. And both are relevant for location based services and when thinking about the risk of portable devices and the Internet of Things.

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(Updated 22-7-2010 om recht te zetten dat Google, in tegenstelling tot wat in het originele artikel stond, niet de MAC addressen van andere mobiele apparaten verzamelt.)

Locatie gebaseerde diensten passen zich aan aan de lokatie waar je je bevindt. Je vindt zo snel een restaurant naar keuze bij jou in de buurt, of weet waar je vrienden zich op dit moment bevinden. Veel van die diensten draaien op mobiele telefoons, of op tablets zoals de iPad. Om zo’n dienst te gebruiken moet je echter wel je huidige locatie te weten. Daarvoor zijn een aantal mogelijkheden.

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