Tag Archives: privacy

Lawsuit Charges Microsoft with Location Spying with Windows Phone 7

Users of this site will remember that "locationgate" affected most modern smartphones OS. A new episode is discussed over Slashdot in a story named Lawsuit Claims Windows Phone 7 Spies On Users.

Their summary: "Microsoft wants to emulate the success of the iPhone, but they probably didn't want to follow in Apple's footsteps this way: a class action lawsuit claims that Windows Phone 7 is collecting location data on users, even when they request that it stop. But a look at the internals shows that Microsoft might not be acting as Big Brother-ish as it appears."

Slashgeo will resume geonews aggregation (and catching up the last three weeks too) pretty soon. Thanks for bearing with us.

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Saturday Geonews: TileMill 0.4.1, Esri FileGeodatabase API 1.1, GIS with Google Earth, Layar Vision App, and much more

Here's the recent geonews in batch mode. Yes, on a Saturday! I'll be away for the next three weeks and dare delay my family's departure to feed you with these.

From the open source front:

  • Mentioned before, the open source map design tool TileMill reached version 0.4.1   
  • Some recent improvements of QGIS: an extraction projection tool for QGIS, a new MapInfo to QGIS style converter and Shield Labels for QGIS
  • Not the first time it happened, a briton got arrested during his OpenStreetMap mapping activities, yes, that was before the recent London riots
  • O'Reilly offers an entry named Open source maps tell data journalism stories in Afghanistan
  • Paul Ramsey of the PostGIS fame shares interesting arguments on the open source vs proprietary debacle
  • Here's an entry on generating elevation maps from along-track stereo pairs using the open source Orfeo ToolBox
  • We told you ourselves a few times, but here's how James Fee telling us Why You Can’t Afford to Miss FOSS4G

From the Esri front:

  • The File GeoDatabase API version 1.1 has been released, in includes a .NET wrapper and bug fixes
  • James Fee mentions PgMap and QMap to connect to spatial databases with ArcGIS 10.1 without SDE

From the Google front:

  • In their learning series, here's an entry on GIS with Google Earth and Google Maps
  • Google shares an entry on famine crisis relief in the Horn of Africa
  • Here's the 50th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall in Google Earth
  • Google invites us to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial with Google Maps

On the Microsoft front:

  • Microsoft updated their Bing Maps Account Center with three main improvements: Direct Publishing of Data Sources, Map Navigation for Data Editing, and Enhanced POI Data Search
  • Here's an entry named KinectFusion Provides Low-Cost and Accessible 3D Interior Mapping

In the miscellaneous category:

  • The Spatial Law blog shares a long entry named Geolocation and Privacy: Are We Going the Right Way?: "However, many of bills are so broadly written that if they were to become law they could apply to a broad range of geospatial products and services, including satellite and aerial imagery, GIS and GPS."
  • VerySpatial mentions the launch of the augmented reality Layar Vision app to "recognize real-world objects and then trigger digital content based on that object"
  • The GEB shares satellite imagery on the Japanese Tsunami that created some massive icebergs
  • MacRumors details an Apple patent on schematic maps: "[...] a new maps application that could display a simplified subset of information most relevant to a user seeking specific information or routing."
  • In special remote sensing news, Slashdot mentions a camera reaching its target by being thrown by a grenade launcher
  • MapQuest tells us how free listing works on their MapQuest Local Business Center

In the maps category:

  • O'Reilly discuss maps of the recent London riots
  • Mapperz mentions the release of USGS historical maps
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Microsoft Exposes Locations of PCs and Phones

Slashdot started a discussion named Microsoft Exposes Locations of PCs and Phones.

Their summary: "Microsoft has collected the locations of millions of laptops, cell phones, and other Wi-Fi devices around the world and makes them available on the Web without taking the privacy precautions that competitors have, CNET has learned. The vast database available through Live publishes the precise geographical location, which can point to a street address and sometimes even a corner of a building, of Android phones, Apple devices, and other Wi-Fi enabled gadgets. Unlike Google and Skyhook Wireless, which have compiled similar lists of these unique Wi-Fi addresses, Microsoft has not taken any measures to curb access to its database."

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Poll Results on Location Privacy and New Poll on Esri ArcGIS Online vs Google Earth Builder

Quite some time ago already we asked our readers whether you worry or not about your location privacy. Out of 97 votes, the results indicate show that 14% fear it would do them harm and 18% that we can't trust third parties on this issue. At the opposite, 13% just don't think someone else is interested in their location and 2% only are confident their location won't be wrongly used. The large majority is participants, 37%, say that they worry a little bit, but not that much. Surprisingly, 15% of our users indicate they don't use location-aware devices.

Our new poll asks you who will win our soul between Esri ArcGIS Online and Google Earth Builder?

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New Jersey Judge Rules GPS Tracking of Spouse Legal

This story is being discussed over Slashdot: NJ Judge Rules GPS Tracking of Spouse Legal.

Their summary: "The use of a GPS device to track your whereabouts is not an invasion of privacy in New Jersey, a state appellate court panel ruled today. Based on the battle of a divorcing Gloucester County couple, the decision helps clarify the rules governing a technology increasingly employed by suspicious spouses — many of whom hire private investigators. No state law governs the use of GPS tracking devices, and the ruling, which does not affect police officers, is the first to address the issue, said Jimmie Mesis, past president of the New Jersey Licensed Private Investigators Association. 'We only use it when we are sure we have the appropriate conditions,' [private investigator Lisa Reed] said, noting that investigators make sure GPS devices are installed in cars on public streets and not private areas, and that the spouse must have some legal or financial connection to the car."

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Google’s Bangalore Streetview Project Stalled

Currently in discussion on slashdot. Here is their summary :

"The Bangalore Police have objected to the collection of data by Google's cars, which were criss-crossing Bangalore city taking high definition images to give users 360 degree views of streets. Talking about the security concerns in an earlier interview with CNN-IBN, Google India Product Head Vinay Goel said, 'We are only driving on public roads and taking publicly available imagery so what we are not doing is going into a specific installation and taking private pictures and obviously we are working with the authorities so if there are certain locations they don't want us to be there we won't go there, we are happy working with the authorities here.'" 
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EU Demands Explicit Geo-Location Permissions

Slashdot discusses a story named EU Demands Explicit Geo-Location Permissions. Their summary: "Apple, Google and employers are already contravening new European Union rules that will require companies to get explicit permission from users before any geo-location data can be used to track them, whether for the purposes of targeted advertising or monitoring employee behavior. This could be the start of the next big privacy argument. The hopes of companies planning to use geo-location data to push products and services to mobile device users have taken a beating in the European Union, following a pronouncement from the European Data Protection Supervisor, Peter Hustinx."

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Slashdot Geonews: Google Android Location Tracking and Constraining, Cracker-Sized Satellites, and a bit more

Here's the geospatial-related discussions that took place over Slashdot during the last 7 days. From my personal experience, there's often more value in the Slashdot user comments than in the news themselves, so don't hesitate to take a look at their user comments. Half of those stories from Slashdot are related to Google and location tracking. Slashdot discussed a story about Marlinspike's Android Firewall that Constrain Location Tracking. The summary: "The first dynamic Android firewall, dubbed WhisperMonitor, has been released by respected security researcher Moxie Marlinspike. The firewall will allow users to stop location-tracking apps and restrict connection attempts by applications. Marlinspike, whose company created the application, designed WhisperMonitor in response to the incidence of location tracking and malware on Android platforms. It monitors all outbound connection attempts by applications and the operating system, and asks users to permit or block any URLs and port numbers that are accessed." Another story discussed is named Google Sued For Tracking Users' Locations. The summary: "Two Android phone users are suing Google for $50 million in the wake of revelations that their phones might be tracking their locations. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on April 27, is seeking class-action status. The plaintiffs, Julie Brown and Kayla Molaski, are residents of Oakland County. The two say in the suit that Google's privacy policy did not say that the phones broadcast their location information. Further, they say Google knew that most users would not understand that the privacy policy would allow for Google to track users' locations." Apple was sued for their location tracking last week. According to Boy Genius Report, iOS tracking will be addressed in version 4.3.3, which is due out within a couple weeks. Slashdot discussed a story named Google's South Korean Offices Raided, and the relation with geospatial is obvious in the summary: "The Seoul police raided Google's office in Seoul, S. Korea today on suspicion that they have illegally collected users' location data, without consent, for advertising purposes. Google claims to be cooperating with the investigation." Now, not related to Google directly but still on the location tracking theme, Slashdot discussed a story named Battle Brews Over FBI's Warrantless GPS Tracking. The summary: "The FBI's use of GPS vehicle tracking devices is becoming a contentious privacy issue in the courts, with the Obama administration seeking Supreme Court approval for its use of the devices without a warrant, and a federal civil rights lawsuit targeting the Justice Department for tracking the movements of an Arab-American student. In the midst of this legal controversy, Threat Level decided to take a look at the inside of one of the devices, with the help of the teardown artists at iFixit." Slashdot discussed a story named Cracker-Size Satellites To Launch With Endeavour, the summary: "Obfiscator writes with news of the upcoming deployment of satellite-on-a-chip devices measuring just 3.8cm x 3.8cm x 0.2cm. The satellites are set to launch with Endeavour on its final flight. "These three miniature satellites are being launched as a proof-of-concept. As such, they're being deployed in very low orbit, and should return to earth fairly quickly in order to avoid becoming dangers for other satellites. 'They each contain seven solar cells, a microprocessor, an antenna and amplifier, power storage in capacitors, and switching circuitry to turn on the microprocessor when the stored energy is enough to create a single radio-frequency emission.' Due to their size, atmospheric drag would slow them down without burning them up, allowing them to study the uppermost atmosphere of wherever they are deployed next: Venus, Titan, Europe, and Jupiter are all possibilities." Here's another story on Crowdsourcing Radiation Monitoring In Japan. The summary: "A new open- and crowdsourced initiative to deploy more geiger counters all over Japan looks to be a go. Safecast, formerly RDTN, recently met and exceeded its $33,000 fund-raising goal on Kickstarter, which should help Safecast send between 100 and 600 geiger counters to the catastrophe-struck country. The data captured from the geiger counters will be fed into Safecast, which aggregates radiation readings from government, nonprofit, and other sources, as well as into Pachube, a global open-source network of sensors."

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Verizon Plans Smartphone Location Warning Sticker

Slashdot discusses a story named Verizon Plans Location Warning Sticker. Their summary : "After all the location tracking drama, Verizon tells Congress that 'it's going to start slapping a surgeon-general-type warning on the phones it sells: Using this device could be hazardous to your location privacy, and may result in your being tracked!' The actual warning (PDF) is a little drier — illustration with story."

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Articles and Poll Results on Tablets in Geospatial and New Poll on Location Privacy

Our poll on tablets and geospatial generated 119 answers and a few interesting user comments. About half (47%) of responders believed tablets could be useful but they don't own one. Next, 18% feel there isn't enough geospatial-related apps yet. About 17% said they really help get work done (6%), love them but necessarilly for geospatial (8%) and some can't even live without it (3%). At the opposite, about 13% dared say that tablets are useless gadgets and another 4% that tablets are of no use to them. We mentioned quite a few times tablets in the past year. A lot of big companies are jumping in, including geospatial-related apps from Google, Microsoft, Apple, Autodesk, Esri, and others. The Spatial Sustain blog has a recent entry on this topic named The Rise of the iPad in the Boardroom Feeds an Enterprise Approach and Directions Mag published an article yesterday named A Geospatial Tablet Revolution with the following summary: "Is the geospatial industry on the verge of a new revolution, one to rival the move from desktop to the Web? With the full-scale launch of the tablet computer in, many are suggesting that may be the case. Geospatial professionals are about to have their world altered forever. Matt Sheehan, senior geospatial developer at WebMapSolutions, tells the story of how we got here." We also offer a new poll on your level of worry regarding location privacy.

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