October 2011 – #NSCAM (National Cyber Security Awareness Month)

The meshing of online with physical environments is best exemplified by the seemingly ubiquitous influx of location-based services.  Such services may, in exchange for your announcing your presence (checking in) offer you, their customer a discount, fame as a frequent visitor, or other inducements to announce to your following (and beyond) that you not only use the merchant’s services, but you also are proudly telling others that you are present at their establishment.  Clearly makes sense.  Merchant builds an identifiable clientele, will to announce on a regular basis their presence within.

From my optic, as long as you know the answers to the following questions, then you have the necessary information required to measure the risk versus gain of announcing your physical location to the virtual/online world.

  • Announcing where you are is also announcing where you aren’t, is that a problem?  For you or your family?
  • How does the location-based service provider store your personal information (profile)?
  • What security and privacy surrounds your profile data?
  • How is your location data shared with your “friends?”
  • Can an individual not known to you access your location without your knowledge?
  • If you look at your check-in’s can you discern a pattern of when and where you will be at a given time?  Can others?
  • How can your data be collated by someone, other than yourself?
  • Can your data be collated without your explicit permission?
  • If your data is collated or archived by others would you know?
  • Are you able to review your check-in’s and remove or edit these?

Location based services are here to stay, have great viability and absolutely increase the interaction between individuals and merchants, as well as serve to identify individuals with similar interest.  Know that well-intentioned services have a positive side, but also may also be used to your detriment.  If you are satisfied with the answers to the aforementioned questions, then make your decision to share or not to share.