Geotagging and Other Electronic Tracking – Worth the Risk to Privacy?

Congress is currently considering a bill to prevent the abuse of location data collected by electronic devices. In the mean time, we all have to question how much privacy are we willing to give up to get the types of services and apps we have come to love?

For example, did you know that when you take a picture with your smartphone and post that picture to the web, that photo could be tagged with geolocation data (i.e. Latitude and Longitude). Automatic geotagging is generally enabled by default on smartphones. While it sounds desirable to know where and when you took a vacation photo, consider the adorable photo you took of your children playing in your backyard and posted on line or the expensive piece of jewelry you just posted on e-Bay. Do you really want to give your location to everyone online?

The Senate Judiciary Privacy, Technology, and Law Subcommittee is looking into these issues and held a hearing with representatives of Apple and Google. The good news is that both Apple and Google deny that their phones track and record users’ locations.

While most cannot deny the benefits of geolocation technology, which among other things, can allow emergency responders to locate us when we have a problem, there is a clear need for laws which allow us to know what geolocation data is being collected and the right to consent before that information is shared with others.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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