Google for “Location Privacy” and you end with 1,990,000,000 results!! Although all of us are excited and passionate about the possibilities of Geospatial technology, we cannot afford to ignore the privacy concerns and issues that been raised regarding sharing one’s location.
The common person on the street has a reason to be worried if he/she can be tracked using a “normal” application without his/her knowledge. The privacy concerns are not limited to application alone, a couple of years ago there was a controversy when Google “mistakenly” mapped all the Wi-Fi connections in Britain.
Such kind of mapping helps in providing what is commonly termed as “Geolocation Lookups”, the industry alias for providing your device a rough idea of where it is immediately so that the location algorithms can triangulate their position better. But that is no excuse for invading one’s privacy (location privacy). But until now, there has been no open source initiative to provide such a service based on publicly available geolocation references like Cell phone towers and the like.
Mozilla location service is an open source, crowd-sourced initiative to provide geolocation lookups based on publicly observable information like Cell phone tower and Wi-Fi access points. Mozilla is collecting data from users who are contributing using the app, MozStumbler. There’s even a leaderboard for the game theory enthusiasts 😉 Addressing privacy concerns alone is a big motivation for a lot of people to encourage this project! But the biggest disappointment is that the app is not available on Play Store! If you someone who is interested in contributing, visit this page and download the app directly to your device.
” Geolocation lookup is a very useful service to provide to users. There’s no public data set to provide this service. None of the current companies offering this type of service have any incentive to improve on privacy. Geolocation lookup and the potential for tracking the physical movement of individuals is a serious privacy issue. ” – Mozilla
Geolocation Lookups are a very good idea for minimizing positioning errors and reducing the time taken to find out where you are. However we also need to understand that with data/information comes responsibility as well. We have to address the privacy concerns. I personally believe that we need more such open source initiatives like the mozilla location service to address the growing concern over privacy and data protection. What is your opinion?