Location – particularly location tracking – has been in the news a lot lately and it hasn’t always been flattering.
Jim Warner is COO of the Location Forum.
- ▪ The General Accounting Office (GAO) has a new report, Mobile Device Location Data, that concludes all the benefits location tracking can deliver can be undone because companies don’t self-police and many cross a line of privacy that’s inappropriate.
- ▪ The Direct Marketing Association has launched an ad campaign that essentially amounts to “trust us – we won’t abuse the personal data we track.”
- ▪ Verizon admits they track people’s location and other behaviors and are now selling that data (all while maintaining it’s within the law).
All of these make the recent work of the Location Forum's Location Data Privacy Initiative that much more relevant and crucial.
There’s no doubt that tracking and other forms of location data provide a host of benefits. In today’s
Social-Local-Mobile (SoLoMo) world, consumers adore and depend on location-based services and apps. Businesses use location to operate more efficiently and to better serve customers.
But consumers are skeptical of trusting businesses to “do the right thing.” They are between the proverbial rock and a hard place - they want the benefits of location tracking but are rightfully concerned about their data being abused or used in a way they don't want. The only reasonable, pragmatic way forward is a system that's open, transparent and controllable by the users. Sort of trust but verify.
Location Forum members recognize individual’s concerns about the location tracking capabilities of various location-based services and mobile devices. We also know that responsible businesses take location data privacy seriously but to date, haven’t had a widely accepted way of implementing a location data privacy best practice. That’s all changing.
The soon to be released Guidelines, Recommendations and Assessment will take the issue of location data privacy from art to science. Companies will be able to apply concrete, measurable steps to improve and verify their handling of sensitive location data. And soon, consumers will have a simple but verifiable way to see which businesses are adhering to the guidelines and which pose a risk.
Confidence without burdensome regulations is the order of the day.