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Wireless location privacy protection

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3 Author(s)

After more than two decades of hype, computing and communication technologies are finally converging. Java-enabled cell phones run a host of powerful applications including mobile Internet access, while many notebook computers offer high-speed wireless connectivity as a standard feature. The big decision when purchasing a PDA is whether to get integrated cellular service or Wi-Fi capability. Location-based services are emerging as the next killer app in personal wireless devices, but there are few safeguards on location privacy. In fact, the demand for improved public safety is pushing regulation in the opposite direction. Today, when a person reports an emergency from a landline phone by dialing 911 in the United States or 112 in Europe, the system displays the caller's phone number and address to the dispatcher. The US Federal Communications Commission has mandated that, by December 2005, all cellular carriers be able to identify the location of emergency callers using mobile phones to within 50 to 100 meters. However, how cellular carriers and other businesses will use this capability remains open to question. The article looks at some of the areas this capability affects, including: privacy risks; economic damages; location-based spam; intermittent connectivity; user interfaces; network privacy; and privacy protection.

Published in:

Computer  (Volume:36 ,  Issue: 12 )