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Apps: Your GPS Location Data Up For Sale


tracking location Sthlm

writer icon Vera P. Jensen     Google Maps   |   Tech Ethics     🕐 25. Apr. 2019


In Sweden, hundreds of thousands of people are being tracked in various apps on their phones. Information on where you have been, and at what times, is then openly sold for marketing purposes, Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) revealed earlier this week.

According to the investigative piece in DN, the data reveals where you have been, how you were moving, and at what speed. This information is then shared with offshore companies and sold as location data.

Location data
Gil Larsen, VP for the Americas at Blis, a location data company, states that "location data is about knowing where someone goes and in what order they travel from place to place". This type of information is said to be completely anonymous, but that is not always the case.

As also reported by SVT, location data is both useful and valuable, as it provides information on how people behave in terms of movement, making it possible to better target ads and marketing.

There are at least ten established location data vendors who sell this type of data on people's movements and location, which has been recorded using GPS in apps.

Traceable information
Neither names or address information is supposedly included in this data, however in a countries such as Sweden, where public records to residency and company ownership are often accessible online, this is not the case in practice. 

DN's investigative exposé illustrated how reoccurring movement and repeat location patterns at different hours of the day and night, make it possible to track who lives and goes where.

This process was demonstrated by tracking down a person in Sweden from this type of data, and presenting the few steps needed for this to take place.



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