CAT | GeoLocation
This very short article describes a really simple attack that enables someone to discover your physical location with a very high degree of reliability and accuracy.
Given that information, it is easy to pass this information to a Location Services API which returns a location good to a few hundred feet, sometimes much closer. Here is a website that does this for you.
In an interesting CNET article Google CEO Schmidt talks about how new technologies are going to impact society. One of his comments really struck me. Schmidt said that the only way to handle the new technologies is “much greater transparency and no anonymity.”
I have not seen the arguments and evidence behind such a bold claim. I would have argued exactly the opposite. We need MORE anonymity for users and more transparency and accountability from data collectors like Google.
This article reports on Apple’s admission that they are building their own location database to replace Skyhook (which is a WiFi location database).
Many of us are now walking around with devices that monitor our environments and report back to the mother ship about them (even if done anonymously).
Finally a viable solution to the privacy problem!!!
The enhanced router would be sold to ISPs and will automatically insert your ZIP+4 into HTML headers. This will allow marketers to have much more accurate information about the user’s physical location.
They claim that the “consumer is not in any way stripped of their privacy” but fail to actually explain how that is the case. The point is for ISPs to get a piece of the advertising pie. The ZIP will be encoded, not sent in the clear, but will be available to some undefined set of “trusted third parties”. That does not give me much comfort.
I have seen many examples of websites which charge different prices based on where you live, or otherwise restrict access to web pages. This kind of targeting does not help me at all. If I want to be located, I have many ways of explicitly telling the site where I am.
This is another example of why you can’t trust your ISP. Their interests are not the same as yours. They have a strong incentive to track and monetize your activity.
Fortunately it is easy to take back control. If your traffic is encrypted within a VPN, then the ISP will be unable to insert this information. It gives you the absolute ability to enforce your own “opt out” even if the ISP does not want to give you the option. Anonymizer Universal(TM) provides an easy tool to accomplish this.