Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How Media Coverage Impacts Expectation of Location Privacy

Companies in the spatial or location technology industry (broadly defined) need to pay close attention to how the issue of location privacy is being covered by the media. Such coverage not only influences consumer expectation and behavior, it will also impact how the technology is perceived by policymakers and regulators. For example, recently there has been a good deal of coverage of the privacy issues associated with a local government in New York using Google Earth to identify pools that are unregistered and the Greek government using it to find people who are avoiding tax payments. Privacy is also frequently identified as an issue in media coverage of technology associated with providing location-based services. Recently, there has been an increase in reports that hackers are able to determine an individual's location based upon their computer or smartphone use. However, there is little discussion about the differences in the technology being used, what expectation of privacy might be impacted, and whether this expectation is even reasonable. Without such a discussion, consumers, policymakers and regulators are likely to make uninformed decisions that could have a negative consequence for a number of companies.

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