Sunday, December 22, 2019

Must Read!: One Nation, Tracked- The Vast and Lucrative Trafficking in Human Tracking

 The NYT's article discusses the trade/profit in Human Tracking. Trade and Trafficking are similar. They are not significantly different.  It might have been better to denote these practices as Trafficking of Human Tracking

Traffic and trade are interchangeable.  
a :  import and export trade
b the business of bartering or buying and selling
c illegal or disreputable usually commercial activity 
  • NYT's : One nation, tracked An investigation into the smartphone tracking industry from Times Opinion
Unfortunately releasing this news just days before the holidays guarantees it will get less reads then usual, sadly, since it is a must read article. Just a few select passages below.
 "The data reviewed by Times Opinion didn’t come from a telecom or giant tech company, nor did it come from a governmental surveillance operation. It originated from a location data company, one of dozens quietly collecting precise movements using software slipped onto mobile phone apps. You’ve probably never heard of most of the companies — and yet to anyone who has access to this data, your life is an open book. They can see the places you go every moment of the day, whom you meet with or spend the night with, where you pray, whether you visit a methadone clinic, a psychiatrist’s office or a massage parlor.
Today, it’s perfectly legal to collect and sell all this information. In the United States, as in most of the world, no federal law limits what has become a vast and lucrative trade in human tracking. Only internal company policies and the decency of individual employees prevent those with access to the data from, say, stalking an estranged spouse or selling the evening commute of an intelligence officer to a hostile foreign power"
While it is technically not illegal to traffic in human tracking data is it consented to?
By that I mean knowingly consented to?
Are you informed fully of how your  data is being traded, sold, passed around?
The answer is a resounding NO!
"The companies that collect all this information on your movements justify their business on the basis of three claims:
People consent to be tracked, the data is anonymous and the data is secure.
None of those claims hold up, based on the file we’ve obtained and our review of company practices"
In fact the claims are so ridiculous their better characterized as absurd! There is no real consent. The data is not anonymous or secure. Because... and it's another case of "no shit sherlock" IF THE DATA WAS ANONYMOUS, IF IT WAS SECURE, IT WOULD BE WORTHLESS!
"Describing location data as anonymous is “a completely false claim” that has been debunked in multiple studies, Paul Ohm, a law professor and privacy researcher at the Georgetown University Law Center, told us. “Really precise, longitudinal geolocation information is absolutely impossible to anonymize.”
“D.N.A.,” he added, “is probably the only thing that’s harder to anonymize than precise geolocation information.”
The data can change hands in almost real time, so fast that your location could be transferred from your smartphone to the app’s servers and exported to third parties in milliseconds. This is how, for example, you might see an ad for a new car some time after walking through a dealership.
That data can then be resold, copied, pirated and abused. There’s no way you can ever retrieve it"
Again, if the data was anonymous how could you receive targeted advertising immediately after walking through a car dealership? Clearly it couldn't be done.


  1. The " tracking " ship has sailed a long time ago, Its too late now. The basic technology behind cell phones means one is tracked at all times. Not too mention all the other technology out there.

    1. The "tracking" ship can be docked. It's up to the people to make the choice. Dump all the devices or face a life of complete and total control.