Slashdot discusses a story named Tool Reveals iPad and iPhone User Locations. Not the first time this happens to major location services providers. We can expect Apple to fix this loophole.
Their summary: "A researcher has found that Apple user locations can be potentially determined by tapping into Apple Maps and he has created a Python tool to make the process easier. iSniff GPS accesses Apple's database of wireless access points, which is collected by iPhones and iPads that have GPS and Wi-Fi location services enabled. Apple uses this crowd-sourced data to run its location services; however, the location database is not meant to be public. You can download the tool via Giuthub."
Here's the recent geonews in batch mode.
On the open source front:
On the Google front:
In the everything-else category:
In the maps category:
A recent article on the BBC website outlines a study undertaken at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Catholic University of Louvain which established that individuals can be uniquely identified by just four points of mobile phone location data. The study makes interesting reading regarding the collection of "Big Data" and personal privacy.
That's the name of a story discussed over Slashdot Have a Wi-Fi-Enabled Phone? Stores Are Tracking You. This topic has been covered quite a few times, last occurrence was 5 days ago.
Their summary: "Call it Google Analytics for physical storefronts: if you've got a phone with wi-fi, stores can detect your MAC address and track your comings and goings, determining which aisles you go to and whether you're a repeat customer. The creator of one of the most popular tracking software packages says that the addresses are hashed and not personally identifiable, but it might make you think twice about leaving your phone on when you head to the mall."
This is my tentative to catch up the geonews since my mid-August holidays. Here they are!
On the open source / open data front:
On the Esri front:
On the Google front:
On the Microsoft front:
In the everything else category:
In the maps category:
Discussed over Slashdot, a story named Minneapolis Police Catalog License Plates and Location Data.
Their summary: "The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Minneapolis police used automated scanning technology to log location data for over 800,000 license plates in June alone, with 4.9 million scans having taken place this year. The data includes the date, time, and location where the plate was seen. Worse, it appears this data is compiled and stored for up to a year and is disclosed to anyone who asks for it."
It's not new that we find examples of major privacy issues brought forward by location-based services and geospatial technologies (remember creepy and pleaserobme?). The last example is discussed in a Slashdot story named World's Creepiest iPhone App Pulled After Outcry.
Their summary: "Ben Grubb reports that an iPhone app that essentially allowed users to stalk women nearby using a location-based social networking service has been pulled from the iTunes app store by its developer after an outcry of criticism including a comment by Gizmodo labelling the 'Girls Around Me' app as the 'world's creepiest' app and a comment in The New York Times Bits blog, which said it 'definitely' won the prize for being 'too creepy'. The 'Girls Around Me' app utilized publicly available data to show a map with women who had checked-in to locations nearby using Foursquare and let users view Facebook information of those ladies if they had tied their Facebook account to their Foursquare account and if their Facebook account privacy settings were lax enough to allow any user to access it. The promotional website used for marketing the app states that the service 'helps you see where nearby girls are checking in, and shows you what they look like and how to get in touch, adding 'In the mood for love, or just after a one-night stand? Girls Around Me puts you in control! Reveal the hottest nightspots, who's in them, and how to reach them.' Foursquare yanked the Girls Around Me app's access to its data, which in turn led to the app's developer removing it from iTunes as it didn't work properly. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, the company behind the app defended its creation: 'Since the app's launch till last Friday nobody ever raised a privacy concern because, again, it is clearly stated that Girls Around Me cannot show the user more data than [what Foursqure or Facebook] already does.'"
Slashdot ran a discussion named Leaky Cellphone Nets Can Give Attackers Your Location. What I found interesting is that the operating system of the cellphone is not at stake this time.
Their summary: "GSM cellular networks leak enough location data to give third-parties secret access to cellphone users' whereabouts, according to new University of Minnesota research. 'We have shown that there is enough information leaking from the lower layers of the GSM communication stack to enable an attacker to perform location tests on a victim's device. We have shown that those tests can be performed silently without a user being aware by aborting PSTN calls before they complete,' write the authors, from the College of Science and Engineering, in a paper titled 'Location Leaks on the GSM Air Interface' (Pdf). The researchers are working with carriers and equipment makers, including AT&T and Nokia, to address the security issues."
A bit more from the article: "The researchers demonstrated how easy it was to track down a cellular device within a 10-block area in Minneapolis using a T-Mobile G1 smartphone and open source technology. They never contacted the service provider to conduct the test. "It has a low entry barrier," researcher Denis Foo Kune said, in a statement. "Being attainable through open source projects running on commodity software.""
Yesterday Slashdot discussed a story named Indian Government To Track Locations of All Cell Phone Users.
Their summary: "As per amendments made to operators' licences, beginning May 31, operators would have to provide the Department of Telecommunications real-time details of users' locations in latitudes and longitudes. Documents obtained by The Indian Express show that details shall initially be provided for mobile numbers specified by the government. Within three years, service providers will have to provide information on locations of all users. The information will have some margin of error at first. But by 2013, at least 60 per cent of the calls in urban areas would have to be accurately tracked when made 100 metres away from the nearest cell tower. By 2014, the government will seek to increase the proportion to 75 per cent in cities and 50 per cent in suburban and rural areas."
Discussed a few days ago over Slashdot, Iranian Police Tracking Dissidents Using Tech From Western Companies.
Their summary: "A recent article at Bloomberg discusses Western companies supplying monitoring equipment to Iran. There are few regulations restricting the sale of intelligence monitoring systems to the Iranian government, and large corporations like Ericsson and Nokia have supplied the equipment used to identify dissidents and suppress anti-government protests. '[One such system from Creativity Software] can record a person’s location every 15 seconds — eight times more frequently than a similar system the company sold in Yemen, according to company documents. A tool called "geofences" triggers an alarm when two targets come in close proximity to each other. The system also stores the data and can generate reports of a person's movements. A former Creativity Software manager said the Iran system was far more sophisticated than any other systems the company had sold in the Middle East.'"