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Customer data privacy detracts from merits of geofencing

Some customers are uncomfortable with companies tracking their location, but are various technologies ushering in Big Brother anyway?

Any time you remind people that they're being watched, some of them are going to get nervous. If you download an...

app, you explicitly opt in to the program, but what about devices with pre-loaded apps? What about companies selling customer lists to each other, which we already know happens all the time?

There's definitely the potential for abuse here and it's really no wonder: The same technology that advertises shoe sales now was, and still is, used to monitor criminals under house arrest and to track delivery trucks to make sure they don't stray from their routes. There's always the possibility that some clever hacker can use location-based services as a back door to get in to any personal information [customers] have stored on their mobile devices. To be fair, this is true of any new technology. Exploits like that are going to be aggressively sought out and squelched.

In reality, regarding privacy concerns, our society has become so love-hate with sharing personal details that this is only going to be an issue for a small number of people. We use apps like FourSquare to tell the world where we are, we share pictures of what we're doing via any number of services and we use Google Maps – which is actually a main component of a lot of geofencing initiatives – all the time. Google has to know where you are in order to tell you where you're going. So, in a sense, Big Brother is all of us collectively.

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This was last published in December 2014

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How often do you "check-in" at different places or otherwise voluntarily offer up your location on social media?
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I really try not to do this - though sometimes I learn that an app is displaying my location even if I didn't intend it to. i'm not just concerned about companies tracking me, but also others who might be interested to know that I'm not at home. 
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The only I do this when using Foursquare - sometimes it gives me deals / savings on my locations. But other than that, I don't use it often due to security concerns.
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"Big Brother is all of us collectively." Great point. As with most tech privacy issues, we are creating issues through our demand for convenience (i.e. Google Maps) or oversharing (social media).
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With geofencing - I love that term - we as consumers get a benefit in many cases. In exchange for a little bit of data on where we are and where we're going, we get coupons, freebies, affinity rewards. When the exchange falls out of balance, then opt out or take steps to keep those companies from tracking you. In many cases, it's still possible to live off the grid if you know the steps to take. http://www.engadget.com/2014/07/07/how-to-disappear-completely-part-three/ 
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