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Communications of the ACM


Can You Locate Your Location Data?

map and pointers, illustration

Credit: Getty Images

Shopping trip, school pick-up, medical appointment, first date, divorce court, or something even more personal—whenever you carry a mobile device and wherever you take it, chances are data about your location is being collected.

Smartphone apps that are free to use on the basis that individuals find them desirable and therefore agree the apps can collect their location data seem to be reasonable, but exactly what data is collected, how it is used, and whether it is sold to third parties is a much bigger, darker picture that smartphone users are unlikely to see at first glance, and will only experience when their data is used for purposes far beyond their initial consent.


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