Monday, August 23, 2010

Internet and Geolocation: a Toxic Cocktail for Privacy

Are you standing on the Rock of Salvation?


Written by Alix Rijckaert for Agence France-Presse (Paris)

By making a geolocation a pillar of development, internet giants such as Google and Facebook are playing dangerously with the privacy of Internet users, claim experts and NGOs.
This is the latest high-tech trend: to offer more services to mobile users, these users on the go who connect to the Internet through their smart phones. These high tech devices can identify, through the use of satellite, the exact location of any user within a few meters.

“The threat of these technologies on privacy are absolutely huge” says Alain Pannetrat, expert of the Commission Nationale de l’informatique et des libert├ęs (CNIL), an independent organization working for the protection of privacy in France.

“Imagine me being able to tell you in a year: You were in such place, close to such person!”, he adds.

This is even more significant considering the fact that the shelf life of private data of behemoths like Facebook (500 million members around the world) or Google (90% of internet searches in France) is not defined by law.

In an attempt to close this judicial loophole, the CNIL, which has received 73 complaints from individuals about Google and 53 on Facebook since 2008, has formed a work group on the issue.

This might become a hot issue in the near future with the generalization of geolocation as most of complaints so far were about difficulties to delete an account or an image and identity theft.

Finding the exact location of the internet user is at the heart of a new feature of Facebook, launched this week in the United States, and soon to be extended to other countries.

“Facebook Places” allows its members to indicate with a simple click on their mobile phones wherever they are, identify their friends around, and register on the pages of bars, restaurants, shops …”

Google had already invented a similar device called Google Latitudes. Geolocation is also the reason of the its photo cards service named 3D Street View, available via mobile phone and internet. The latter has been heavily criticized because of private data of users connected to wireless networks had been registered by Google during the collection of these images.

“Knowing where your friends are (…) may be useful in everyday life, but the real goal is to make money by selling ads!” Denounces Jerome Thorel, representative in France of the NGO Privacy International.

In fact, geolocation opens to the giants of the internet the huge market of digital advertising that is both targeted and local, which will directly compete with classified ads, a market estimated reaching nearly 15 billion dollars in 2010, only United States. by the firm Borrell.

Being a free service, “Facebook has only one way to make money and that is targeted advertising,” explains Mr. Pannetrat, stressing that “their economic interest is to obtain as much information about their users “to propose” a tailor-made ad “.

Google, “the company that holds the most information about internet users today, builds on a daily basis the profile of Internet users through the use of cookies, said Mr. Pannetrat.

Where users currently find themselves, where they are planning to go, and the landscapes they dream about is all information that Google – which earned in 2009 about 23 billion in advertising revenues – will put to work for advertisers.

Isaiah 55:6
Make search for the Lord while he is there, make prayer to him while he is near:Isaiah 55:7Let the sinner give up his way, and the evil-doer his purpose: and let him come back to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for there is full forgiveness with him.
John 3:16
For God had such love for the world that he gave his only Son so that whoever has faith in him may not come to destruction but have eternal life

God bless you!

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