Most people realise that their online activities are tracked. One clue comes from the behaviour of adverts. Having been browsing options for a new sofa, whatever page you go to next mysteriously has an ad for a sofa on it. Another clue comes from that ever-present message about cookies which has to be clicked in order for it to go away.
But few realise that their mobile device is keeping tabs on where they are. A survey published in Harvard Business Review showed that only 25% of people realised they are sharing their location when they go online.
On your iPhone go to Settings > Privacy > Location services > Frequent locations. Here you will find a series of maps pinpointing the places you have been to most often over the last few weeks.
All that happened without asking you. You can turn it off of course, if you know it is there in the first place, but it is on by default. Meanwhile Apple is adopting the role of defender of consumer privacy in its letter to consumers over its tussle with the FBI.
Location information can make apps indispensable for consumers. A simple map turns into a route planning tool when location data is added. But companies will need to ensure that consumers understand these benefits and how the information is being used – for people to choose to opt in and not out.
Andrew Keevil assists technology companies with strategy and marketing, specialising in new proposition development.