Government, MIT Analyze Location Data For Spread of Virus

During the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. federal government, via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local governments, is receiving analyses of people’s movements — based on location data from millions of mobile phones — in “certain areas of geographic interest.” The data, provided by the mobile advertising industry, is being used to understand how such movements may be impacting the spread of coronavirus. MIT researchers are also debuting a project to track COVID-19 patients via a phone app. Continue reading Government, MIT Analyze Location Data For Spread of Virus

New Reports Reveal Unsettling Facts About Voice Assistants

Microsoft reports that 41 percent of those using voice assistants are concerned about “trust, privacy and passive listening.” Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, the major voice assistant providers, rely on humans to review collected voice data — although most people are unaware of this. Bloomberg also delved into Amazon’s Alexa team following a report that the company reviews audio clips from commands. Five employees familiar with the program revealed they can “in some cases easily find a customer’s home address.” Continue reading New Reports Reveal Unsettling Facts About Voice Assistants

Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces House Judiciary Committee

At a hearing at the House Judiciary Committee, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai faced tough questions about how his company handles data privacy and disinformation by foreign actors. Republicans on the Committee also grilled him about a perceived anti-conservative bias, which Pichai staunchly denied, saying Google uses a “robust methodology” on all topics “without regards to political ideology.” Unconvinced, these lawmakers pointed to videos and emails from Google executives expressing dislike of right-leaning ideas. Continue reading Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces House Judiciary Committee

The Industry Built Upon Analyzing, Selling Your Location Data

Location data has become big business. According to recent research from The New York Times, at least 75 companies receive reams of precise, anonymous location data from apps with enabled location services. Some of these companies state they track up to 200 million mobile devices, to collect such data, which they sell, use or analyze for customers such as advertisers, retail companies and financial outlets including hedge funds. The location-targeted advertising industry is valued at $21 billion this year. Continue reading The Industry Built Upon Analyzing, Selling Your Location Data

Nielsen and Foursquare Ink Partnership for In-Store Visit Info

Although Nielsen already offers tools to help track when consumers buy products in-store after seeing online ads, the measurements company has inked an agreement with Foursquare to create an improved product. Location data company Foursquare will offer information which, combined with Nielsen’s marketing tools, will offer a more complete picture of consumer activity. The new capabilities will come at a price. Nielsen digital measurement clients will be required to buy into the version with Foursquare data included. Continue reading Nielsen and Foursquare Ink Partnership for In-Store Visit Info

Facebook Launches Marketplace, Battles Sale of Illegal Items

This last Monday, Facebook began gradually introducing a new feature, Marketplace, which, similar to Craigslist, lets users buy and sell items. The app will be first introduced to users in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom, and will also be available on the desktop in the next few months. Because most Facebook users access the site via mobile phones, Marketplace will provide better location data for matching buyers and sellers than Craigslist. Since the launch, however, Facebook has been dealing with illegal items for sale. Continue reading Facebook Launches Marketplace, Battles Sale of Illegal Items

Clear Channel Outdoor Billboards to Track, Identify Passersby

Clear Channel Outdoor Americas inked a deal with AT&T and other companies to enable it to track people, via their mobile phones, who pass its tens of thousands of billboards across the United States. Called RADAR, the new service will, says Clear Channel Outdoor, give advertisers better tools to measure the effectiveness of billboard advertising. RADAR will be offered in Clear Channel Outdoor’s top 11 markets, which includes Los Angeles and New York, with availability across the country later this year. Continue reading Clear Channel Outdoor Billboards to Track, Identify Passersby

CalECPA: California Governor Signs Landmark Privacy Law

California Governor Jerry Brown last week signed a new law designed to protect digital privacy rights. The California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA) mandates that a warrant is required in order for state law enforcement agencies or investigators to compel businesses to turn over metadata or digital communications such as emails, texts, and cloud-stored documents. Additionally, it requires a warrant for the tracking or searching of electronic devices. The White House, meanwhile, has backed down on its battle with tech companies over encrypted data of digital devices. Continue reading CalECPA: California Governor Signs Landmark Privacy Law

GAO Report Looks at Privacy Concerns of Facial Recognition

U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) highlighted the findings of a just-released GAO (Government Accountability Office) report focusing on the privacy implications of facial recognition technology. The report details concerns about the practices of companies that collect, use and store massive amounts of personal information. Franken, chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy Technology and the Law, pointed to the report’s findings as more proof that federal standards are needed. Continue reading GAO Report Looks at Privacy Concerns of Facial Recognition

New SiRFusion Tracking Tech Can Follow People Everywhere

Cambridge, UK-based CSR has developed a new technology that can monitor your every move by tracking information from your mobile device. The technology, known as SiRFusion, was designed to provide users with instantaneous directions for areas that often go undetected by other GPS apps, but also has compelling advertising potential. The technology makes use of GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cloud computing to yield accurate results. CSR recently unveiled an SDK for Android developers. Continue reading New SiRFusion Tracking Tech Can Follow People Everywhere

Twitter Aims to Integrate Coupons with E-Commerce Program

With a base of about 248 million users, Twitter could become the ultimate commerce destination for marketers and shoppers alike. The company recently announced its plan to rollout Twitter Offers, a program that allows marketers to package promotional tweets with time sensitive discounts and coupons that can be readily redeemable via smartphones and credit or debit cards. The new program is an initiative to drive sales, primarily in-store sales, with mobile advertisements. Continue reading Twitter Aims to Integrate Coupons with E-Commerce Program

Apple Announces iPhone Update to Address Location Data Concern

Most of our readers have probably been following the recent news regarding consumer fears that iPhones and other smartphones are tracking users’ location information. It was recently discovered that phones operating on iOS and Google’s Android platform transmit the devices’ locations back to the respective companies.

Apple has defended the need for location data to provide optimum service and provided clarification by explaining an individual cannot be located using the data. The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple defends its process, but nonetheless announced a planned software update that will reduce the size of the database cached on the phone and hopefully alleviate user concern.

According to WSJ: “Apple said it maintains a database of Wi-Fi hot spots and cell towers around users’ locations, a process that helps the phone calculate its location. The information is used to quickly find global-positioning-system satellites, a process that otherwise could take several minutes, the company said.”

Related CNNMoney article: “LocationGate was a ‘bug,’ says Apple” (4/27/11)

Related Wall Street Journal article: “Q&A: Jobs and Apple Execs on Tracking Down the Facts About iPhones and Location” (4/27/11)

Related Macworld article: “How the iPhone knows where you are” (4/28/11)