Technology has come a long way during the past few years. With ubiquitous access to the internet, mobile phones, and the cloud, people could not imagine even going a day without these devices.
At the same time, this accessibility also comes at a price. Many people do not realize the tremendous amount of information they surrender when they use these smart devices on a regular basis.
Now, location tracking could end up being the latest invasion of privacy. The reality is that location tracking needs to be banned and there are a few significant reasons why.
What Is Location Tracking and How Does It Work?
Many people use the GPS feature on their phones to help them find directions to their destination. This is one of the most helpful uses of smart devices. On the other hand, location tracking can also be used to follow people around without them knowing it.
The vast majority of people have the GPS feature on their phone turned on at all times. Therefore, even if they are not using an application to find directions, people might still be able to figure out where they are located. For example, the “find my phone” feature is helpful for people who have lost their devices.
However, this also allows other people to track someone’s location, assuming their phone is on them. This begs the question: who might be tracking people’s phones and why are they doing this?
A Major Issue in the Law Enforcement Community
Already, there are reports coming out of law enforcement about tracking people’s phones in an effort to crack cases. Even though this sounds like a good idea on the surface, it ends up making a large number of innocent people suspects of serious crimes, including murder.
The premise is that law enforcement can access information from Google and other tech companies to see who was in a certain area at a specific time when a crime was committed. Then, judges can issue something called a “geofence warrant”, which is designed to collect all information on who was in a certain area at a given time. The individuals are labeled with anonymous numbers, and law enforcement professionals are supposed to look at their movement patterns to see if any of them appear relevant to the crime.
However, there are significant issues with this approach, including:
- New information might be uncovered that the crime was not committed at that location or at that time.
- There is usually a tremendous number of people in a given area at a certain time, making it hard to make any meaningful headway when it comes to the suspect pool.
- The owners of these phones are not consenting to their movements being tracked, which raises significant privacy issues.
- Given that the overwhelming majority of anyone who is tracked using a geofence warrant is likely to be innocent, it raises issues regarding the efficacy of this approach.
Even though tracking a person’s location might be helpful to build a case against someone who is already a strong suspect, it places a tremendous number of innocent people in harm’s way, needlessly disrupting their lives and invading their privacy. And the current environment is only making this easier.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Might Make Universal Tracking a Reality
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone. This public health crisis has created an economic crisis that has impacted everyone in every corner of the world. As medical professionals scramble to try to save as many lives as possible, people have wondered why the technology community has not been stepping up to provide more assistance.
Now, there are reports that the technology community might be stepping up to help with contact tracing. The way companies such as Google might provide assistance in this matter is by implementing universal tracking.
A recent Google Play update tracks all users of Android devices indiscriminately. Even though this could prove helpful for contact tracing, it is just another massive invasion of people’s privacy. There is no rhyme or reason for how the Google Play update tracks the movements of its users or logs this information.
The reality is that it doesn’t have anything to do with contact tracing. The Google Play update is designed to track the movements of its users so that more data can be sold for marketing purposes. Furthermore, this could escalate, placing more innocent people in the path of police investigations needlessly.
There are other ways to battle the coronavirus pandemic without invading people’s privacy. Even though contact tracing is incredibly important, universally tracking people’s information without consent is not the way to do it.
In the end, location tracking is both unconstitutional and illegal. Technology is supposed to make people’s lives easier, not invade their privacy. This practice needs to be banned. In the meantime, people should consider using tools like residential proxies to protect their personal information, including their locations.