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Big Brother is my co-pilot

By   /   June 13, 2012  /   1 Comment

Big Data vs little you. spoiler alert: you are not going to make it.
We take a look at Inrix the main player in traffic analysis based on GPS tracking information, and analyze what it means for your privacy or lack thereof.

There is no information about the data they get from car manufacturers using their technology, but it is most probable that car manufacturers transmit the VIN of your car along with the GPS information. Since Inrix does not clearly state that they delete VIN information, it is better to assume that it keeps it and makes it available to authorities upon request.

Other partners such as GPS and navigation App maker Garmin collects and transmits Personal Identifiable Information to Inrix. They give no details about what they transmit, but a look at the permission for their apps, reveals that it contains, your phone number, email address, contact list, etc. Once again there is nothing in Inrix privacy statement that tells you what they may do with that information.

There is also a very troubling statement in the Garmin privacy policy:

(viii) Compliance with Applicable Law. We may need to collect and retain PII about you in order to comply with applicable laws and to respond to requests from public authorities, including public authorities outside your country of residence.

I love that last part: “authorities outside your country of residence”. That is a bit vague and quite scary when you think about it. Let say that authorities in your country have a legal issue in asking Garmin for your info. What prevents them from picking up the phone and calling Hans from the German police, and have him request the information? Nothing.

Even in the US consumer protection rights regarding location data is paper thin. They were discussed in this 2009 arstechnica article. US authorities do not even need a warrant to get tracking information from your cellphone carrier. Most carriers even have an automated web portal form authorities to access that information in exchange for a fee. Your privacy is a commodity you see.

Of course you may not care about your privacy rights, and care only about getting where you are going on time. After all denial is bliss, and traffic is hell.


You may also like Happy 1984! our quick take on a new patent from Microsoft.

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1 Comment

  1. Ana says:

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