When I first read this story in Salon I thought that it might be a hoax, then it turned up in other locations such as this Fortune story. Checking our the CEO of Copley Advertising on LinkedIn, he certainly has the technology although it promotes it as being used as an advertising medium and not specifically as a tool to target women considering an abortion.
I don’t know if this is a publicity stunt to gain publicity for his company, if it is, it has certainly worked and is one of those situations that as a specialist blogger, you sometimes wonder whether you should mention a subject, or leave it alone because you don’t want to promulgate the behavior.
I am all for permission based, location based targeted marketing, i.e. where we opt in to a service because of the benefits we can gain, for example targeted deals offering distressed inventory or items of interest, be it a weed-eater to someone who has purchased a lawn mower or some new additions to the menu at your favorite Japanese restaurant when you are in the neighborhood at 6PM on a Saturday or offers of attractions and events to tourists..
But this is a flagrant invasion of privacy and comes with a high risk of abuse and potential danger to the victims of such tactics. Mobiles have a unique ID called a MAC address and this can be used with software, effectively to spy on people.
It isn’t super easy to do without installing software on people’s mobiles, but with the right technology, at specific locations, such as an abortion clinic it is relatively simple to obtain MAC addresses, if not details of the owner of the mobile directly. For more information on this, check out the following article on Digital Trends http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/police-hackers-phone-tracking/#:u0lHOHWRh3wJlA
You can turn off location services, but they are one of the key benefits of having a smartphone, but that doesn’t stop your phone sending out it’s MAC address, which it does constantly, telling the telephone company where you are for billing purposes among other legitimate purposes.
Using tracking technology against someone’s will is illegal in some States, but many countries and States have not yet come to grips with the issues, or in some cases might be quite happy in countries that do not have a democratic political system.
When it comes to combating terrorism or serious crime, I’m all for the ability to track phones, providing it is done within the law. Of course that’s where criminals use burner phones, typically pre-pay phones which they throw away so that they can’t be tracked. When it comes to individuals, hate crime, or groups who believe they are more right than others, it is wrong on so many levels and must be stopped.
We have privacy laws in most countries and they must be constantly updated so that spying on, or using people’s private information without their explicit informed consent is not just illegal, but treated as a serious crime with harsh penalties.
What can you do to stop your phone from being tracked and still benefit from location based apps you want to use? Not a lot. Only use location based apps from services you know and trust is a starter. For more information check our this article from Digital Trends http://bit.ly/1TNLd8r
I’m keen on your comments. What do you think? How does this make you feel?