GPS privacy has been litigated and it remains unresolved. GPS, aka global positioning system, alone can locate a device. The GPS identifier and the device’s Internet Protocol identification, (IP address) can provide greater identifying capability of the actual user. The IP address information can reveal a user’s location by city, the region, the state, along with the country, also the Internet Service Provider (ISP). The importance of this lies in the involved dynamics of users downloading content apps from platform services or providers. The importance also rests on the privacy expectation of the user, regardless if the user is a subscriber, renter, or purchaser of the app or content.
One aspect that should be kept in mind is that GPS privacy is waived as an essential requirement for the unfolding data sequence being transmitted to effectuate the download of the desired app, video, or program. The process is seemingly a handshake. The app provider needs to know where its app is going to be used. In needing to know that, it seeks to know the device’s generation along with its capacity and whether it is an Android or an iPhone. The provider also seeks to know through that handshake the ISP providing the connection.
A user’s download of an app should never be done without knowing the provider of the app. GPS Privacy as stated, is not the only piece of identifying data that the providers seek. Providers share this data about the user with third-party analytics entities that the provider uses.
While GPS data alone is only one aspect of the user’s identity, there is concern where in combination, with other facets, altogether establish the requisite of personal identifiable information (PII). Disclosure of PII is not allowed. In the realm of data security and the protection of personal privacy, PII is a held solemn. Courts have treated this issue quite differently and the analysis of such is beyond the scope of this piece. But what should be kept in mind is the dynamic of the diminishing privacy of GPS and the other detectable identifying data points as a user seeks to download an app or content, such as a video.
GPS privacy is treated quite interestingly under the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). 18 U.S.C. §2710(b). In this provision, the disclosure of PII is not allowed. 18 U.S.C. §2710(a)(3). The argument among the courts lies on the definition of the user, in a commercial sense, whether the user is a subscriber, renter, or a purchaser. But the idea homed in on in this piece is the privacy of GPS data and what privacy expectation should a user have.
Ever wonder why so many ads appear all the sudden on one’s device. Well, it is because the media content provider or the app, engages in transmitting the device’s ID. The device’s ID is accompanied with GPS location coordinates. The user’s duration of use is also transmitted. All this information allows the creation of a user profile to be shared.
So, as the user digitally shakes the hand of a content provider or provider of an app, the handshake approval process releases any degree of privacy claim over the users GPS and associated identifying data. There is more on this subject to be discussed, but what should be kept in mind is that privacy in a digital age is circumscribed as we all avail ourselves of the bells and whistles that seek to entertain us online.