Why the data panic?
We’re exposed to various news segments and articles warning us about the darkening cloud of location sharing and location history. It’s like there are suddenly no more location sharing benefits! Word on the street suggests anything you use on a daily basis, such as your mobile device, Facebook or Google, is tracking you. This looming tracker hides deep in your smartphone. It tricks you, it’s hard to find, you’re seeing articles on “how to stop it!” and it’s creating a panic.
It sounds like an infectious disease, as “it affects anyone with an Android phone or iPhone users running Google Maps,” which translates to over two billion people. Over two billion people are affected and don’t know how to make it stop! But what exactly are they affected by? What is the problem?
It’s not a problem if everyone follows the rules
The problem is that even if you turn off your location history, some apps can still track you and store time-stamped location data from your devices. It’s been described as “textbook deception.” Unless these two billion affected people are running from a committed crime, these claims don’t explain exactly what symptoms are negatively affecting us.
For those of us who aren’t expecting to turn up profiled on Dateline, why are we being told that location tracking is so bad? Wired’s article “Google Tracks You Even When Location History’s Off” quotes UC Berkeley graduate researcher on the topic, stating, “Tracking people without their consent and without proper controls in place is creepy and wrong.” Yikes. Hard to disagree there. A violation of privacy and transparency (versus the actual location accessibility via technology) is certainly creepy and wrong. The article further states, “Beyond creepiness, though, Google’s location-tracking may also violate the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer protection statutes against deceptive privacy practices.”
Now that’s an understandable problem. Formal legislation for data privacy standards are still in progress. So, data companies must self-regulate by following GDPR practices that willingly and openly support customer privacy. With compliance in place, the negative “creepy tracking” connotations should be more accurately described as “transparent location sharing that improves overall consumer experiences.”
Reframing the problem as the solution
As summarized in LOCALLY’s previous articles on location sharing benefits, location sharing ultimately benefits both businesses and consumers while reducing mass-marketing noise. Highly accurate and precise location data is extremely valuable for brands and marketers because, it helps improve and refine marketing strategies, user experiences and product offerings to better serve their customers.
Audience data is at an all-time high. U.S. companies plan to spend $19B on data in 2019. More than 80% of marketers plan to boost their use of location data over the next two years to seek greater insights into how consumers interact with businesses. Consumers and businesses alike see more value and additional uses for this data. As a result, industry growth will continue to increase exponentially.
As an end user, if you choose to share location data, you ultimately should get what you want when you want it in return. The looming, creepy tracker isn’t really affecting you negatively, as it’s creating efficiency. It’s supporting the evolution of technology.
Embrace the benefits
As a consumer, think back to why you bought a smartphone. Why do you download apps? Why do you use Google instead of thumbing through the Yellow Pages delivered to your driveway? Perhaps because you want instantaneous efficiency! Your overall experience with smartphones, apps and location-technology both enhances and simplifies your life in almost every category. Imagine not having location services to find the nearest sushi restaurant!
If technology remained stagnant, there would be no location intelligence. Meaning, no more billions of rows of anonymous data captured and transformed. No more advanced methodologies that produce personalized benefits designed for your precise needs.
For example, your printed MapQuest directions aren’t going to reroute you in traffic and get you to your dining destination on time! Ultimately, you would not be getting exactly what you want, when you want it. Now, that’s scary!