The future of the Internet, we are told, involves something rather cunning, and perhaps shocking: The cell phones and pad devices we use more and more frequently to get online are constantly sending out information about where we are. And “location data” are the data of the future, it would seem, now that there is no mystery in what we say and whom we say it to.
Not only can people who want to do so find out what Web sites we are visiting, or whom we are calling on our cell phones, they also can tell where we are at any given time if we are carrying a cell phone or tablet. And that information is stored in the cloud, or some other server out there that contains everything.
The information technology journalist Shelly Palmer passes along on his blog a report from another technology journalist that attests to those facts. In fact, the writer even used a cell phone app to create a map of where he had been in recent days. He found it eerily accurate — but not exact. For example, he writes, he has never visited an Army recruiting office, but the map showed he had gone to one. It turned out he had gone to a nearby building, one he hadn’t known was near an Army recruiting office. This is pretty scary.
Let’s say you went into a bakery that happened to be next door to a jewelry store. And let’s also say that while you were in the bakery munching a blueberry muffin and drinking a cup of coffee, the jewelry store next door was shoplifted of an expensive diamond ring.
Technologically adept police trying to solve the crime could get a reading of all those who had gone into the jewelry store at the time it was robbed, and your name would show up. Meanwhile, the robbers might be shown to have been in the bakery.
It might take you awhile to talk yourself out of that one.
If you have a mapping device in your car, you can be sure it is recording where you drive, even though the device might be turned off.
Somehow, that just seems creepy.