As location-aware advertising goes mainstream—like that Jack in the Box ad that appears whenever you get near one, in whichever app you have open at the time—and as popular apps harvest your lucrative location data, the potential for leaking or exploiting this data has never been higher.
EDITOR’S NOTE: When the movie Minority Report was released back in 2007, audiences were thrilled to see the technological marvels that would come true for some future generation down the line. Funny thing is, though, just about everything shown in the movie has already come true, including the persistent mobile advertising that follows your every move. The every move of billions of people all being tracked and recorded by a personal device in their pocket…and it’s not even the mark of the beast yet. Imagine that.
It’s true that your smartphone’s location-tracking capabilities can be helpful, whether it’s alerting you to traffic or inclement weather. That utility is why so many of us are giving away a great deal more location data than we probably realize. Every time you say “yes” to an app that asks to know your location, you are also potentially authorizing that app to sell your data.
Dozens of companies track location and/or serve ads based on this data. They aim to compile a complete record of where everyone in America spends their time, in order to chop those histories into market segments to sell to corporate advertisers.
Marketers spent $16 billion on location-targeted ads served to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets in 2017. That’s 40% of all mobile ad spending, research firm BIA/Kelsey estimates, and it expects spending on these ads to double by 2021.
The data required to serve you any single ad may pass through many companies’ systems in milliseconds—from data broker to ad marketplace to an agency’s custom system. In part, this is just how online advertising works, where massive marketplaces hold ongoing high-speed auctions for ad space.
But the fragmentation also is due to a very real fear of the public backlash and legal liability that might occur if there were a breach. Imagine the Equifax breach, except instead of your Social Security number, it’s everywhere you’ve been, including your home, your workplace and your children’s schools.
The fix, at least for now, is that with most individual data vendors holding only parts of your data, your complete, identifiable profile is never all in one place. Giants like Google and Facebook , who do have all your data in one place, say they are diligent about throwing away or not gathering what they don’t need, and eliminating personally identifying information from the remainder.
Yet as the industry and the ways to track us expand, the possibility that our whereabouts will be exposed multiplies.
If you’ve ever felt clever because an app on your phone asked to track your location and you said no, this should make you feel a little less smug: There are plenty of ways to track you without getting your permission. Some of the most intrusive are the easiest to implement.
Your telco knows where you are at all times, because it knows which cell towers your phone is near. In the U.S., how much data service-providers sell is up to them.
Another way you can be tracked without your knowing it is through any open Wi-Fi hot spot you might pass. If your phone’s Wi-Fi is on, you’re constantly broadcasting a unique MAC address and a history of past Wi-Fi connections. Retailers sometimes use these addresses to identify repeat customers, and they can also use them to track you as you go from one of their stores to another.
WeatherBug, one of the most popular weather apps for Android and iPhone, is owned by the location advertising company GroundTruth. It’s a natural fit: Weather apps need to know where you are and provide value in exchange for that information. But it also means that app is gathering data on your location any time the app is open—and even when it isn’t, if you agreed to always let it track your location. That data is resold to others.
GroundTruth also gathers location data from “over a hundred thousand” other apps that have integrated bits of its code, says company president Serge Matta, who declined to disclose which apps. App makers agree to harvest location data because it grants them access to GroundTruth’s mobile advertising network.
This data is what enables marketers like Jack in the Box to push an advertiser’s message to potential customers near its restaurants. A typical engagement includes pushing location-based promotions or coupons through mobile ads, says Iwona Alter, Chief Marketing Officer of Jack in the Box.
Every month GroundTruth tracks 70 million people in the U.S. as they go to work in the morning, come home at night, surge in and out of public events, take vacations, you name it. source
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NTEB has been hit with some serious bills related to our operating costs in 2018, the price of everything is going up! So we have prayerfully decided to extend our fundraiser into the springtime, specifically to May 14th, 2018. Without your generous support of this ministry, we would not be able to continue operating.
When you contribute to this fundraising effort, you are helping us to do what the Lord called us to do. The money you send in goes primarily to the building of the recording studio, but it also goes to the overall daily operations of this site. When people ask for Bibles, we send them out at no charge. When people write in and say how much they would like gospel tracts but cannot afford them, we send them a box at no cost to them for either the tracts or the shipping, no matter where they are in the world. Even all the way to South Africa. We even restarted our weekly radio Bible study on Sunday nights again, thanks to your generous donations.
Personally, I hate having to hold a fundraiser, I truly do. If I had them money I would give it all personally and never ask anyone for a penny. In fact, I have given everything I have to this ministry. But the Lord knows better than I do, and I believe with all my heart that He is asking all of you to invest in this ministry as well.
But whatever you do, don’t do nothing. Time is short and we need your help right now. If every one of the 12,426 people on our daily mailing list gave $2.50, we would reach our goal immediately. If every one of our 151,913 followers on Facebook gave $1.00 each, we would reach 600% of our goal. The same goes for our 13,500 followers on Twitter. But sadly, many will not give, so we need the ones who can and who will give to be generous. As generous as possible.
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