Monday, April 12, 2010

Apple's Answer to Location Privacy

In a class I teach on Spatial Law and Policy, I often - too often I suspect the students' would say - ask, which of the following is best to solve a particular legal/policy issue: the courts, legislation, the marketplace or industry? With that in mind, I read with interest Apple's attempt to apply a technological solution to a location privacy issue. Specifically, according to the New York Times article, "[t]o make it clearer just how often approved apps are collecting data about users’ physical whereabouts, Apple will display an arrow in the status bar at the top of the screen, right next to the battery-life indicator, whenever a user’s location is being tracked."

Something as simple as an arrow displayed on a status bar will not address all the privacy concerns associated with location-based services and applications. However, it does show the value of the technology and legal communities working together to identify practical solutions. Hopefully, this trend will continue with respect to spatial law and policy issues.

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