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The team is asking for ethical guidelines on the location tracking technique

The team is asking for ethical guidelines on the location tracking technique


As a smartphone app to keep track of all our movements, this week a team of technologists from the US and the UK provided guidelines for the ethical use of location data. The American Geographical Society and the UK map agency, responsible for the Ordnance Survey, want companies to commit to 10 principles, including minimizing data collection and actively seeking user consent.

Chris Tucker, president of the American Geographic Society (a private research and defense team), says the Locus Charter seeks to capture the potential benefits and risks of a world that looks invisible in real time: from your weather app to your GPS car system. , or internationally, state-supported contact tracking applications that control people around the world.

“We all started fighting Covid and the ethical implications of contact tracing, that is, about location applications and geospatial data, ”says Tucker.“ We realized that there is no set of international guidelines or principles for implementing location technology. It’s a big gap. “

Tucker says the epidemic highlighted the dual nature of location data. Governments can use location data to prevent outbreaks by informing people of potential exposures. But that risked creating a state library, in everyone’s location, where they went and with whom.

The Locus Charter is not a set of laws or rules, but rather 10 guidelines aimed at guiding thinking about the ethical use of an organization’s location data. These points include protecting vulnerable people and understanding how location data sets can be combined with other data to identify people.

The guidelines address concerns about some of the uses of location data. Vice reported Muslim prayer apps, including Muslim Pro, are designed to help Muslims meet prayer schedules. Many users were unaware that the applications stored this data, attached it to identity documents, and sent it to data brokers contracted with the U.S. government.

In the future, Tucker says concerned researchers or engineers may point to Locus Charter guidelines to try to avoid such arrangements. Instead of just saying “this is bad,” they can say that the apps have collected more data than necessary, that they haven’t noticed that their users are largely vulnerable, and that they haven’t asked for information or permission for other uses.

“People need something to play against man,” Tucker says.

When the locks started, Google, The New York Times, and how other organizations moved people in the early weeks of the pandemic. The data were enlightening, highlighting how the occupation and income affected people when they were protected in their place. But many were surprised to see how these organizations could access our location data, keeping track of where we are going by accessing so many databases.

At the same time, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs throw plans For Smart City in Toronto’s Quayside. The neighbors grew a lot privacy Concerns about plans to incorporate sensors for data collection 24/7, including round-trip data. Nadine Alameh, CEO of the Open Geospatial Consortium, says she develops technical standards for geospatial data, focusing specifically on smart cities, describing them as “Google Earth on steroids”. In most smart city proposals, population location data is collected based on where they live, as data suggest the creation of a more sustainable city. The Locus Charter hopes that organizations will get to think about the benefits and damage on a massive scale of entire cities.

For now, the Locus Charter guidelines are voluntary. But some contributors see it as a step towards rules, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act or the EU General Data Protection Regulations.

“At some point we need to regulate these huge platforms that can capture all of that data,” Alameh says. “And Locus Charter, as I see it, is starting a conversation about how you can have regulations around that.”

Tucker says the letter’s writers are talking to other groups about accepting the principles. Eventually, the conversation will move to regulation, but for now, that exploratory move is also important, Tucker says.


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