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NYT: ‘One Nation, Tracked’

Truly extraordinary report from Stuart A. Thompson and Charlie Warzel for The New York Times:

The Times Privacy Project obtained one such file, by far the largest and most sensitive ever to be reviewed by journalists. It holds more than 50 billion location pings from the phones of more than 12 million Americans as they moved through several major cities, including Washington, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Each piece of information in this file represents the precise location of a single smartphone over a period of several months in 2016 and 2017. The data was provided to Times Opinion by sources who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to share it and could face severe penalties for doing so. The sources of the information said they had grown alarmed about how it might be abused and urgently wanted to inform the public and lawmakers.

This is a truly eye-opening look at how we’re being tracked. The Times was able to use this data to identify individual people. My honest questions: What do we do about it?

Legislation? Make the collection of this sort of data highly-regulated? Is that even feasible with an internet that spans the globe?

Technical? Is there something Apple and Google can do? Should we all be using trusted VPNs all the time to obscure our location? Should Apple build its own VPN and include it with iCloud?

What apps are generating this data? Why don’t we have a list of apps to avoid if you don’t want your location tracked?

Thursday, 26 December 2019