Blog Post

It’s Time to Realize Our Location Concerns Aren’t Dumb

Steve Jobs may have tried to bat away concerns over the iPhone’s why it’s important to come clean about location data. I suspect it’s time for companies to realize user concerns about location data aren’t simply because people don’t get it. It’s because they have a fundamental right to know how people are profiting from what they do.

15 Responses to “It’s Time to Realize Our Location Concerns Aren’t Dumb”

  1. > It’s anonymized data? Go back to whining about something important

    Yeah, it’s totally anonymous. It’s uploaded to Apple by iTunes, that software that logs in with my Apple account and exchanges all sorts of data with Apple’s servers.

    We have only their word that it’s stored anonymously when it hits their servers, and why should we believe them after the lies they’ve told so far?

    PS. Email validation on this comments form is broken – doesn’t allow plus symbols (which are, and always have been, valid) :(

  2. I think we shd have the original Groupon (a website where you could collect ppl committed to a cause so u can gather critical mass) – for issues like this.

    otherwise, it will just be some noise that will get lost soon.

  3. Wow, more dumb commentary and posturing by tech pundits.

    All this hand-wring about anonymized trilaterization data of cell towers and WiFi hotspots – data that can only be obtained through physical access to the phone or the user’s computer.

    Yet no hand wringing by these same tech pundits about all the cached emails, text messages, call history, voice mails that are available right on the phone without the thief having to jailbreak the damn device.

    It’s like someone going into hysterics that a thief went through his junk mail pile in his home while ignoring that 1) someone broke in this home and 2) all the other personal stuff in the home the thief would have access to in the home.

    But no, we’re supposed to get riled up about the equivalent of a worthless junk mail pile.


    Are people seriously that dumb?

    And something that NOT ONE SINGLE SO-CALLED NEWs ORGANIZATION HAS POINTED OUT: TomTom sells an app with speed camera locations.

    And to quote the TomTom website:
    “We genuinely believe that TomTom has a role to play in helping to reduce congestion in countries all over the world. But of course we can’t do it alone. TomTom is but one organisation in a large ecosystem of governments, institutions, businesses and individuals. We hope that by working together we will create better solutions, faster.”

    • Here, here!

      Technology advances as more data is collected, analyzed, and processed by smart devices. People want the benefit of this in their personal lives, and rational people want public policy to be data-driven as well: “Reality-based community,” etc.

      The data has to come from somewhere.

  5. These comments make some valid points, but miss the big one Bobbie was going for: this kind of response is just dumb. Why not say, “we didn’t realize how this was going to be used, and now that we know — and have heard how our customers feel about it — we’re going to begin a full reassessment of our data-sharing and data-selling policies. Stay tuned for an open conversation, and thank you for letting us know how you feel.”

    Honestly, it seems like every day brings a new tale of mind-bogglingly tone deaf communications from otherwise great tech companies. You wonder sometimes if there’s a PR team at all.

  6. Don’t speed and it wont be an issue. I thought it was only an american trait to blame anyone but yourself for breaking a rule/law?? Looks like we have company now.

  7. What happens when there are apps to cut driving time or find parking spots or cheap gas that use aggregated data and the results are open and freely usable. Will they be data-mined anyway?

  8. I might have a problem with TomTom helping users skirt the law with their service, but I hardly see how aiding the police in law enforcement is considered wrong. If a user doesn’t want to pay TomTom extra and doesn’t want to get speeding tickets there’s a simple solution: don’t speed.