As many in recent academic papers have pointed out (e.g. Sarah Ellwood, Jerry Dobson, Michael Goodchild) we seem, for a number of reasons, to be increasingly comfortable disclosing our location by "opting in" to technology that in addition to being very useful, also allows our surveillance. I am not talking Lucy Milligan-style gps necklaces here, but more common fare: gps-enabled cell phones, street view, cctv cameras and the like. These technologies and our use of them might be changing our notions of our “reasonable expectations of privacy”. It is perhaps no coincidence that in this season for the media to summarize the year's news, there have been many interesting examples focusing on the interface between privacy and geo-location. Consider these:
- NPR's recent Science Friday show "Data Mining Spurs Innovation, Threatens Privacy."
- The guests, including Deborah Estrin at UCLA's Center for Embedded Network System, discuss many examples of mining volunteered geographic information, some with social benefits, such as the Google Flu Tracker and the whatsinvasive.com application, and more personally invasive examples, such as the subpeonability of data from location enabled cell phones. As they point out the laws governing subpeona were developed in a different era, with far less available data.
- Along those lines is the much posted recent revelation that Sprint has so far filled over 8 million requests from law enforcement for customer GPS data. Posted at Engaget and elsewhere.
Welcome to 2010, another exciting year in mapping technology no doubt.