Last year, cellphone carriers responded to 1.3 million data requests from law enforcement. Advertisers, too, are constantly looking to outsmart your smartphone. What can your data reveal? For starters:
- Where you had dinner last night
- How much money you have in the bank
- What websites you visit on your lunch break
- Who you texted last night
- What you buy, and where and when you buy it
- Which subway line you took to work this morning
- What time you go to sleep and wake up
- Whether you go to church, frequent the gym, are a regular drinker, or unfaithful to your spouse
By combining your phone’s location data with that of your friends, researchers have shown they can even pretty accurately predict where you will be in 24 hours.
In a piece we co-published Friday with The New York Times, Peter Maass and Megha Rajagopalan argue that it’s time to start calling cellphones what they are: trackers. “The surveillance and privacy implications are quite simple,” they write. “If someone knows exactly where you are, they probably know what you are doing.”
We want to know: How much does cellphone surveillance bother you – and is it enough to stop you from using one? Are you OK with police obtaining your location information without showing probable cause that you are involved in a crime? Should the federal government implement better privacy protections for cellphone users? Tell us in the comments section below.