Nature: Can tracking people through phone-call data improve lives?. “After an earthquake tore through Haiti in 2010, killing more than 100,000 people, aid agencies spread across the country to work out where the survivors had fled. But Linus Bengtsson, a graduate student studying global health at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, thought he could answer the question from afar. Many Haitians would be using their mobile phones, he reasoned, and those calls would pass through phone towers, which could allow researchers to approximate people’s locations.”
Ars Technica: Refunds for 300 million phone users sought in lawsuits over location-data sales. “The four major US wireless carriers are facing proposed class-action lawsuits accusing them of violating federal law by selling their customers’ real-time location data to third parties. The complaints seeking class action status and financial damages were filed last week against AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint in US District Court for the District of Maryland.”
BBC: Google to ‘auto-delete’ web tracking history. “Google is to offer users the option of automatically deleting their search and location history after three months. The search giant already allows users to manually delete the data it scoops up when they use its products such as YouTube, Maps and Search. Now, in a bid to offer more control over personal data, it will offer the option of automatic deletion after three or 18 months.”
CNET: Chinese facial recognition company left database of people’s locations exposed. “A Chinese facial recognition company left its database exposed online, revealing information about millions of people, a security researcher discovered. SenseNets, a company based in Shenzhen, China, offers facial recognition technology and crowd analysis, which the company boasted in a promotional video could track people across cities and pick them out in large groups.”
Motherboard: Hundreds of Bounty Hunters Had Access to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint Customer Location Data for Years. “Around 250 bounty hunters and related businesses had access to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint customer location data, with one bail bond firm using the phone location service more than 18,000 times, and others using it thousands or tens of thousands of times, according to internal documents obtained by Motherboard from a company called CerCareOne, a now-defunct location data seller that operated until 2017. The documents list not only the companies that had access to the data, but specific phone numbers that were pinged by those companies.”
Make Tech Easier: How to Visualize Your Google Location History. “Personal data is a big deal in the modern world: companies collect it, cybercriminals steal it, governments demand it, and the general public probably underestimates it. Tools like Location History Visualizer help with that last bit, though, taking your raw personal location data from Google and converting it into a beautiful, creepy heatmap of everywhere Google knows you’ve been.”
The Register: AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile US pledge, again, to not sell your location to shady geezers. Sorry, we don’t believe them. “US cellphone networks have promised – again – that they will stop selling records of their subscribers’ whereabouts to anyone willing to cough up cash.” I don’t believe them either.