Great article from Mashable author Ben Parr about the rise of LBS, or Location-Based Services. There have been location-based concepts floating around the Web2.0 sphere for quite a while, but as iPhones and other smart wireless devices become more robust and applications for them more ubiquitous, LBS is becoming the hot new ticket:
Location-Based Services: Are You Using Them?.
How this shakes out in terms of privacy will be interesting to watch. Privacy people are probably going to largely take a dim view of such technology, and its good to have them in the public discussing the security aspects of this. It’s also true that, with every new technology, there is a host of information of which much of the population is largely unaware. This therefore makes the public potentially much more exposed to abuse.
But taking the progressive view of the subject, it seems to me that even without LBS applications, we are incredibly trackable anyway. Just about every new phone is equipped with GPS, making it a homing beacon for whomsoever can hack into it. Bluetooth broadcasts its location to anyone within a few dozen feet unless you turn off the search mode, which technical support experience tells me many people probably do not.
So what changes about LBS is that, rather than simply being open to the possibility of being tracked, users make the voluntary choice to be tracked. If they are making deliberate choices, it stands to reason they are taking security into account on at least some level. This to me seems like a good thing – a progression in personal security – not a lapse into doom and gloom of a remote-controlled dystopia.