Protecting Privacy in an Age of Location Services Technology

“The answer to this problem is not ending location-based services. No one up here wants to stop Apple or Google from producing their products or doing the incredible things that you do. What today is about is trying to find a balance between all those wonderful benefits and the public’s right to privacy.” – Senator Al Franken

Within the past few decades, advances in global positioning technology have made it increasingly difficult to keep information about a person’s location private. The usage of global positioning systems (GPS) in automobiles has become commonplace, and nearly eighty percent of phones incorporate GPS tracking. Through a combination of GPS and cell phone triangulation, cellular companies can closely approximate a person’s location. The recent discovery of stored location data in the Apple iPhone and other smartphones has reignited privacy concerns associated with GPS.

The iPhone scandal has highlighted a need for increased protection of consumer privacy. However, it is important that, in procuring those protections, legislators do not significantly reduce the efficacy of GPS. In our website and presentation, we will discuss the societal and individual benefits of GPS as well as the strengths and limitations of current privacy legislation. We will explore cases where corporations and governments have infringed upon the consumer’s right to privacy in the past and use these cases to suggest additional legislation that could prevent further abuse of GPS data in the future.