Your personal life could be a part of a vast industry that tracks a person’s behaviour, movement, and habits through smartphone data. The ‘personalities’ are sold to third party businesses, which use them to direct personalized advertisements. The most disturbing fact about this is that it’s completely legal. There are no stringent laws in place to stop this Big Brother snoopy behaviour.
It’s something a smartphone user can’t avoid. The data can be used to identify a person’s name, home address, and place of employment, even though the specifics are anonymous. You’re a speck in a sea of dots on a map stored in a high-security server.
The New York Times brought this case to light by examining a data file, which contained over 50 billion location pings from more than 12 million US citizens. One of their reports explain, "With the help of publicly available information, like home addresses, we easily identified and then tracked scores of notables. We followed military officials with security clearances as they drove home at night.” The report further adds, “We tracked law enforcement officers as they took their kids to school. We watched high-powered lawyers as they traveled from private jets to vacation properties."
This file is said to be one of the biggest leaks in the recent times, provided by an anonymous source, which couldn’t be pinpointed to a Hacktivist organization or a telecom company. Data companies like Foursquare, PlaceIQ, and Skyhook track user movements through software installed on phones, irrespective of the apps being turned on.
Anonymizing won’t make a huge difference unless a strong law structure is introduced that makes data abuse impossible. Laws that impose heavy fines and jail time for CEOs need to be put in place. Yet, for now, it seems you will have to sacrifice your privacy to keep the convenience of a smartphone intact.