Privacy and Location-Based Mobile Services: Finding a Balance

Privacy and Location-Based Mobile Services: Finding a Balance

Adrian Lawrence (Baker & McKenzie, Australia) and Jane Williams (Baker & McKenzie, Australia)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-366-1.ch002
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Abstract

As commercial interest in LBS increases, legal and regulatory bodies are becoming increasingly interested in the extent to which use of LBS may affect individuals’ privacy. This chapter discusses the nature of the privacy-related issues arising from the use of commercial LBS and gives examples of approaches that might be taken to best address these issues from the perspective of users of LBS and commercial providers of LBS. It identifies and analyses some of the key privacy issues that arise from use of LBS and the ways in which these types of issues are being regulated in some jurisdictions. It also suggests some best-practice guidelines for how these issues might be best dealt with in order to ensure that individuals’ privacy is protected. Given the increasing importance of privacy issues to consumers and their likely reluctance to use commercial LBS if significant privacy concerns are not addressed, this chapter concludes that both consumers and commercial LBS providers will benefit from privacy concerns being addressed appropriately. This chapter identifies and analyzes these issues on a theoretical level so that the issues and approaches suggested may be useful to both privacy advocates and regulators and to providers of LBS, and will remain relevant as LBS become more sophisticated.
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Background

Location information is information about the specific location of a mobile device at a particular time or over a period of time, such as a GPS-enabled navigation device, mobile phone, personal computer or personal digital assistant. Location information is obtained by telecommunications carriers through the integration of computing and wireless communications technologies and is obtained when individuals use such mobile devices or often simply when the device is switched on.

Some of the common non-commercial uses of LBS relate to emergency services, such as the E-911 feature in the United States and roadside assistance services, and law enforcement, such as investigation surveillance of people suspected of criminal activities and investigating the location of missing persons (Lockwood, 2004; Michael, Perusco & Michael, 2006).

Some of the common commercial uses of LBS involve individuals being sent information or advertising messages to their mobile devices, relating to things such as the location and availability of products and services in their local area, such as restaurants, cinemas and other businesses, maps of local areas and travel directions, local weather and traffic conditions, and travel-related services, such as the location of local hotels or hire-car businesses (Younes-Fellous, 2007; Stein, Hawking & Sharma, 2005).

Other commercial uses of LBS involve tracking services, which enable individuals to track their pets, children, aged people or friends. There are also tracking services that enable employers to track their employees and enable businesses to track the movement of their goods in transit (Hong, Boriello, Landy, McDonald, Schilit & Tygar, 2003; Kuchinskas, 2007; Bennet & Crow, 2005).

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