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A Fine Balance: Location and cyber privacy in the digital age

Have you enabled location services on your mobile device?  Does Google know where you are? Faceook? LinkedIn? Foursquare? How about your GPS?  

Location-based services

By its very nature, travel and transport already rely and are coming to rely more and more on location-based services.   Revenues from the UK location-services sector are predicted to reach US$10.3bn (£6.7bn) in 2015, up from $2.8bn (£1.8bn) in 2010.

Unhappy punters?

Developers have ploughed ahead, focused on customer experience rather than information security. As a result more than half of UK consumers are not comfortable with the commercial use of their location data.

A stumbling block, or enabler?

This could pose an interesting conundrum in the times to come.  If the public don't want to share their location, then how can transport and travel be configured around the individual and their preferences?  How can you be informed of the optimum journey you could take if the service providing it can't tell where you are?  Or - how can your privacy be ensured whilst still enabling you to get maximum benefit from a coherent and linked up transport system that relies on location based services to deliver intelligent mobility systems?

New report available

The ICT Knowledge Transfer Network has recently published a report summarising the outcomes of their conference A Fine Balance: Location and cyber privacy in the digital age, that brought together around 100 of the UK’s leading thinkers on how location data is collected, secured, bought and sold. Speakers included The Information Commissioner’s Office, Microsoft, the GSM Association and The Open University, who discussed how to meet these challenges. 

Delegates and speakers were surveyed for their opinions on a variety of key issues and based on their votes a series of recommendations were made to policy makers and industry.

Proposed recommendations

These recommendations included

  • calls for industry codes to increase transparent practises in the use of location data,
  • increased support for UK technologists to find solutions, and
  • proposals for new standard practise guidelines around data anonymisation to reduce the risk of data aggregation. 

If these recommendations are acted upon, it could mean a big difference to implementation of intelligent mobility solutions in the UK.


Download the report from the ICT KTN Cyber Security Group

View and join (for free!) the ICT KTN Cyber Security Group to stay up to date with developments in this exciting sphere.

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