1 EAGLETON NOTES: Privacy

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Monday, 9 December 2019

Privacy

On my phone I have an App called Life360. It is a location-based family networking app designed primarily to allow friends or family members to share location with each other and to communicate with each other in a closed group. It enables my brother to ask if I'm in hospital visiting or as an emergency patient (he'd know if I was going in routinely)

It's also a useful app if you have a family member who is directionally challenged. It makes finding them, telling them they are driving 25 miles down a motorway in the wrong direction and giving directions about what to do. I hear you say that you thought that's what sat-navs are for. It is. However that's perhaps not a route to go down at this moment (no pun intended - originally). 

Today I looked at it to see if CJ had gone down to Heswall (which would, prime facie, indicate a 'good day'). As I opened it I got an unusual message:


In itself the message was not unusual in that all the free app developers have a trade-off or price for being free. What is unusual in my experience is the open honesty and clarity with which the developers have named all 128 'partners' and allowed you to choose ones with which you do not want your information shared.

28 comments:

  1. Hmmmm. I wouldn't be happy with that, personally. It reminded me of a recent occurrence when my niece dropped her mobile 'phone and cracked the screen. She was chatting to her OH that evening about possibly getting a new one. Shortly afterwards she started to receive advertising messages offering mobile 'phones! They think it was probably their Alexa, sitting quietly in the corner of the room monitoring their every conversation. Chilling thought.

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    1. JayCee, I have often wondered about Alexa. I find it very useful for reminders when I'm cooking and have my hands full or sticky, for the radio and for my bedside light when I had a frozen shoulder and couldn't reach the switch. However, it must always be able to hear you even if not recording simply because it's listening out for the start command. So I tried talking near it and saying that I wanted to switch my cellphone and things like that. So far she hasn't cooperated by offering me anything.

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  2. I assumed the mobile service providers were selling information to all and sundry. I suspect this may be an honorable exception.

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    1. I'm sure they are, Adrian. This one is just being honest about it.

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  3. Sounds like a good app for family and friends if you have any close enough and phone savvy enough to use it. I don't. The sharing business sounds a bit out of order to me full stop for such an app but I suppose it has to be acknowledged that at least they are giving you the option of share or don't share.

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    1. Rachel, I suppose that they have either to charge or make their crust like this. We have the option not to use it. I like that fact that they give the option to opt out.

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  4. Interesting information. Such a program or a life line device is a good gift idea for the elderly family members. About the sharing part, I'd have to opt out of all of them.

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    1. Maywyn, I opted out of all of them too. It can be a useful tool. There's just three of us sharing our location information and we find it very useful for a variety of reasons.

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  5. Thank heavens I don't have to deal with phone apps, satnavs and sinister tracking technology. You are welcome to it.

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    1. No one has to use any technology at the moment, YP. I suppose that Google isn't registering any information from your blog which you, no doubt, write with a ball pen. Oh no. Sorry. That's technology. I suppose you could use a quill on parchment but I bet there were people against that back in the day.

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  6. They have to (be transparent, clear and honest about what they do, I mean). The GDPR, which became obligatory for all EU member states plus applies to all companies who target EU-based audiences/customers/consumers/users, forces them to do that. Not all companies play by the rules, of course, but this one apparently does.
    No tracking technology for me - I don't want to (or need to) know all the time where my family and friends are, nor do they need to know my precise whereabouts all the time. It may be different in certain circumstances, and as with most things in life, it is good to have a choice.

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    1. Typing too fast again! I meant to say "The GDPR, which became obligatory in May 2018 for all EU member states..."

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    2. Meike, as you said, there may be circumstances where it is very useful. Frankly I don't care if they want to know my location or how far I walk each day but I'm sure there are many who would find that a problem and many, like you, who just don't want that intrusion.

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  7. I've come across similar messages on other apps and websites, but often less clear, and I think usually set to accepting all as default (or warning that if you continue to use the app/website, you automatically agree). So far I've never felt any need for a location sharing app of the kind you're writing about here, though. My mobile has a cash card and when I'm out and about (usually not for very long at a time) I only turn mobile data on if I need it.

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    1. Monica, I was impressed about the clarity of the request made by this app's developers. I turn off the location on many apps but many, like my Walkmeter, wouldn't give me the information I want if I did.

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  8. We have the same ap on our phones - my husband, our 43 year old single daughter and I.
    We find it very handy when someone needs to be collected from the bus stop or is not there when you arrive home. It is also a safety thing for a single person who lives alone. We have friends who are appalled at the idea of being "followed" where ever they go and call it a "stalker ap" but that part doesn't bother us at all.

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    1. That's the sort of thing I would use it for too, Helsie. If the three of us are out in a city centre it's easy to see where best to suggest we meet. It's also very handy for knowing where the car was left!

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  9. I've never heard of that but it sounds very neat, is it safe to use, like does it allow other people in at all?

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    1. Amy, it is only visible to people in the 'family group' that you have created.

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  10. I haven't heard of this app, but most of the "free" apps do such things which remind us that nothing is really free...

    www.thepulpitandthepen.com

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    1. I should say that while I don't have this app, I do have another app that is for firefighters--for volunteers, we can be tracked as for how soon we can respond to a call, or if we are unavailable, etc. But it's limited to just those who are in the dept.

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    2. Yes, Sage, there are many such apps which can be very useful for locating specialists nearby.

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  11. They can share our info till the cows come home, it doesn't mean we have to fall for the advertising that follows. My biggest pain of the moment are the scammers who appear in my Email. They all want to offer me Tax refunds. I feel very sorry for the few who are bound to fall for it; to some it will be very appealing just before Christmas.

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    1. Cro, I've been fortunate in avoiding emails from such scammers, touch wood and such other superstitious practices.

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  12. It's all so confusing to me...for me. I don't have a mobile...therefore, no apps, but I do have a pile of apples.

    Being the recluse that I am, by choice...I don't travel far from my home base, anyway. I could leave a breadcrumb trail and be back home again before the birds eat it all up!

    I have no family...other than my two furry rascals. I always tell them when I'm going out to the supermarket, and that I won't be long. A minute over my allotted absence time is clearly brought to my attention upon my arrival back home, in no uncertain terms/miaows!

    Perhaps I should keep up with the times...the way this year has flown by, I'd better put my running shoes on.... :)

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    1. Lee, any of us who use a computer have apps but they are less obvious and prominent. They are unlikely to track our movements but they will often know and use our location. This was very obvious to me when I lived dually in Scotland and New Zealand. I was always being told on my laptop that I couldn't do this or that because I was in an 'invalid' location for an app. I had separate UK and New Zealand phones so that wasn't a problem.

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  13. That app sounds like a good idea to me. At the moment I send off a group text to three people every time I go into the lodge and then again when I'm back home. I'll discuss this with the group to see if this could serve the same purpose without me having to remember to send the texts. (I usually remember to advise when I'm going in but by the time I'm back home I'm usually tired and forget.)

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    1. Sorry for the delay Pauline. I think it's one of the good uses for the app which is called Life360 (I use the free version). Another useful app is what3words. Every square metre of the earth is allocated 3 words. It serves the same purpose as a pinpoint map reference. However unless you have the necessary equipment or app to find it that's not easy nor as accurate. Many emergency services now use the three word location. Google Maps app can also be used to share your location.They would automatically know when you were home.

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