Location privacy: The challenges of mobile service devices

Author: Anne Cheung

In: Computer Law & Security Review, Elsevier Advanced Technology, 2014, v. 30 n. 1, p. 41-54.

Abstract:¬†Adding to the current debate, this article focuses on the personal data and privacy challenges posed by private industry’s use of smart mobile devices that provide location-based services to users and consumers. Directly relevant to personal data protection are valid concerns about the collection, retention, use and accessibility of this kind of personal data, in relation to which a key issue is whether valid consent is ever obtained from users. While it is indisputable that geo-location technologies serve important functions, their potential use for surveillance and invasion of privacy should not be overlooked. Thus, in this study we address the question of how a legal regime can ensure the proper functionality of geo-location technologies while preventing their misuse. In doing so, we examine whether information gathered from geo-location technologies is a form of personal data, how it is related to privacy and whether current legal protection mechanisms are adequate. We argue that geo-location data are indeed a type of personal data. Not only is this kind of data related to an identified or identifiable person, it can reveal also core biographical personal data. What is needed is the strengthening of the existing law that protects personal data (including location data), and a flexible legal response that can incorporate the ever-evolving and unknown advances in technology.

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