A new study shows that data collected from GPS-enabled devices is not as anonymous as we think. Data from the U.S. Census was analyzed and shows that for the average person, knowing their approximate home and work locations identifies them uniquely. You can read about it here.
Devices that can track the movement of your pet can be useful when Fido digs out from under the fence, but a 2003 paper on Geoslavery paints a scary picture of ways to enslave laborers and extract a financial return using these devices. For example, child slaves being forced to beg or steal on specified streets for specified hours or sex slaves confined to brothels or street corners.
However, many location based services (LBS) are useful and fun. If you are visiting a new city, you can find restaurants and get maps for interesting walking tours. If you are passing by an ice cream store, a digital coupon for a free cone may be texted to your phone, or you can play global hide-and-seek games like Geocaching. LBS are getting so popular that Wired magazine had an article about making the most of your GPS and meeting people at the same time in their February issue.
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