Technology is rarely a problem. If there’s a problem, it’s with how it’s used. Technology is a tool, plain and simple. But what if the tool is doing things the user isn’t aware of?
I don’t mean to sound all ‘cloak and dagger’ about it. The simple fact is, electronic devices can do more than the previous generation of the same device. It’s said that 80% of people use 20% of the features. This 80% can be a problem when the owner doesn’t know what they are.
“I Am Here: One Man’s Experiment With the Location-Aware Lifestyle” by Mathew Honan, from Wired, delves into this topic with respect to GPS and other ‘location-aware’ technology in our electronic devices.
This paragraph is an eye-opener:
On a sunny Saturday, I spotted a woman in Golden Gate Park taking a photo with a 3G iPhone. Because iPhones embed geodata into photos that users upload to Flickr or Picasa, iPhone shots can be automatically placed on a map. At home I searched the Flickr map, and score‑a shot from today. I clicked through to the user’s photostream and determined it was the woman I had seen earlier. After adjusting the settings so that only her shots appeared on the map, I saw a cluster of images in one location. Clicking on them revealed photos of an apartment interior‑a bedroom, a kitchen, a filthy living room. Now I know where she lives.
Does the woman even know her phone encodes location data in her photos? Unlikely.
Hat tip to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.