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What Secrets Your Phone Is Sharing About You

What Secrets Your Phone Is Sharing About You -

Stashed in: Privacy does not exist.

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"Fan Zhang, the owner of Happy Child, a trendy Asian restaurant in downtown Toronto, knows that 170 of his customers went clubbing in November. He knows that 250 went to the gym that month, and that 216 came in from Yorkville, an upscale neighborhood.

And he gleans this information without his customers' knowledge, or ever asking them a single question.

Mr. Zhang is a client of Turnstyle Solutions Inc., a year-old local company that has placed sensors in about 200 businesses within a 0.7 mile radius in downtown Toronto to track shoppers as they move in the city.

The sensors, each about the size of a deck of cards, follow signals emitted from Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones. That allows them to create portraits of roughly 2 million people's habits as they have gone about their daily lives, traveling from yoga studios to restaurants, to coffee shops, sports stadiums, hotels, and nightclubs."

"Instead of offering a general promotion that may or may not hit a nerve, we can promote specifically to the customer's taste," says Mr. Zhang. He recently emblazoned workout tank-tops with his restaurant's logo, based on the data about his customers' gym visits."

"In the U.S., companies don't have to get a consent before collecting and sharing most personal information, including their location. A bill, proposed by Minnesota Senator Al Franken, would require consent before collecting location data. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission settled its first location privacy case in December, against an app developer that misled consumers into believing their location data wouldn't be sold to marketers."

So as of right now there is NO location privacy whatsoever -- unless you turn it off in phone preferences.

I guess we can turn it off for apps, but can your carrier still track you? and if so, do they have the right to share that information with anyone? it looks like they can.  I wish we had to opt in, instead of opting out ;)

You are correct on all three of those.

If you had to opt in, hardly anyone would opt in.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, Congress changes.

It seems like the country is ran with the best interests of corporations, not the best interests of it's citizens, but they will say we need those corporations for jobs, the economy etc.  I feel we should have strong companies in this country, but citizens should come first, and this will lead to a strong ethical economy.

I agree with you. The question is, how to get the companies to behave respectfully.

Organized consumers boycotting never seems to work.

Neither does regulation.

"Viasense Inc., another Toronto startup, is building detailed dossiers of people's lifestyles by merging location data with those from other sources, including marketing firms. The company follows between 3 million and 6 million devices each day in a 400-kilometer radius surrounding Toronto. It buys bulk phone-signal data from Canada's national cellphone carriers. Viasense's algorithms then break those users into lifestyle categories based on their daily travels, which it says it can track down to the square meter.

For example, by monitoring how many times a consumer visits a golf course in a month, Viasense can classify her as a casual, intermediate or heavy golfer. People whose cellphones move at a certain clip across city parks between 5:30 and 8:30 every morning are flagged by the algorithm as "early morning joggers." The company identifies "youth" by looking at phone signals coming from schools during school hours and nightclubs, and home locations by targeting the places phones spend each night.

Viasense, which says its clients are grocery chains, a large concert venue and a billboard company, then overlays that data with census and marketing lists the company buys from data brokers to deduce demographic information, like whether the cellphone's owner is in a high-income bracket.

Viasense doesn't gather personal information or know any of its users' names, but CEO Mossab Basir says it is simple to figure this out. A person who has enabled location services on an app in which they upload information publicly, such as

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is broadcasting their location and their identity—or at least their handle—at the same time. "People are probably unaware of how much they are making available," says Mr. Basir. "That's why it's a very delicate subject for us. It's kind of Big Brotheresque."

A username is considered personal information, which under Canadian law can't be collected without the consent of the user. In most of the U.S., consent wouldn't be required.

Right now, the only way to opt-out of geolocation is to either switch off the Wi-Fi on a cellphone, or make a request through a website of one the data companies like Turnstyle that has an opt-out option."

I'm positive most Americans have no idea how much of their own information they're exposing.

It's frankly quite confusing.

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