Great post here about the business side of the debate over the past couple of months about the ability of companies such as Google and Apple – both of which have been sued over the matter – to track user location via mobile phones. Bottom line: it’s all about driving click-through ad revenue. Location awareness is thought to provide better advertisement relevance (“click here to get a free appetizer at the bar you’re about to walk past”), and if that opportunity is legislated away, then technology vendors are left holding the bag, or so the counter-privacy argument goes.
Admittedly, I’m on the fence about this since, as the above post points out, users generally show little concern about their own data privacy: just look at the success of Facebook. And government intervention in a fast moving sector is doomed to have negative unintended consequences.
The usual security arms race is already playing out: there’s now an app which allegedly blocks tracking on Andriod. Down the road, I suspect that the major mobile platforms will all give users the ability to opt-out of tracking, counter-balanced by some incentive to leave it on (no interesting apps will work, etc).
By the way: JW Secure – way ahead of the curve, as usual – did work in network-based mobile user location tracking two years ago! See our Laptop LoJack demo.