The latest use of contact tracing apps and location data has ignited questions around our privacy. However, do you know how data can be used to track us?

The Wired Wig spoke to Stéphane Hamel about society’s use of location data and the legal implications of it’s use. Stéphane is the analytics tool founder and data analytics consultant.

Here are three methods used to track a person’s location from the episode.

1. Bluetooth signal data

Bluetooth by itself does not collect the location of the user. Instead, it requires someone else who is using the same application with Bluetooth enabled.

This means it works with proximity not location.

The technology tracks by exchanging encrypted unique keys, if you get close to someone else.

2. Geolocation data

Unlike bluetooth, GPS tracks location, proximity and time. GPS is therefore more intelligent. Geolocation is also more precise: geolocation data is accurate up to 10 metres whereas bluetooth is accurate up to 2 metres.

Furthermore, both technologies also rely on different technical setups. For example, the data may be stored locally on your cell phone (decentralised) or on another server (centralised).

Geolocation data there may have wider implications on data protection. When considering Privacy Law implications, we should ask:

  • where is that data sent to?
  • who also has access to the data?
  • is the data being shared with any other company?
  • is the data being aggregated with other data?

3. Trianglisation data

Only a few people are talking about trianglisation.

We forget that our phones are constantly communicating with cell towers. Typically your phone needs to triangulate with several towers to find the best signal, which can allow a telecom to calculate the exact location of the person. This is readily available in real time from the telecommunication providers. Without this, your phone will not work.

In considering these methods, you can begin to understand our location data is an incredibly powerful tool. You can listen to the legal implications of using the technology from 18:40 below:

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