April 8, 2016
You may recall a couple of news stories from January that sparked a fleeting debate about the way technology allows firms to pry into where we are and what we are doing. The first concerned the installation of under-desk sensors at the offices of The Daily Telegraph, the second a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights concerning the rights of employers to monitor the social media activities of staff. Our take on these stories was that neither was quite as it was reported, but maybe there’s more to concern us in a claim from an advocacy group called Krowdthink that Wi-Fi and mobile networks in the UK routinely track our location and sell data to marketing firms and other third parties. The organisation has initiated a new campaign called Opt me out of Location to highlight what it considers the privacy implications of a situation in which 93 percent of mobile phone users in the UK have their location monitored, usually without their knowledge.
The campaign has been co-founded with another advocacy organisation called Open Rights Group to highlight the fact that nearly every mobile phone user in the UK (93 per cent according to data collated from regulator Ofcom) has often unwittingly signed up for a contract that permits their location to be tracked. The concern is that a data breach could lead to the information becoming available to criminals.
According to the campaign, we also need to be aware that public Wi-Fi providers are similarly using location data in ways we might find unacceptable and could be useful to criminals in the event of a data breach.