It takes only four calls to make your online anonymity vanish
Researchers have some alarming news. After looking at data from mobile phone networks, using just the location of radio masts, they've found that they can identify the vast majority of people from just four pieces of information.
Or one, if the imbecile is using FourSquare.
"If individual's patterns are unique enough, outside information can be used to link the data back to an individual," said the researchers who studied data collected over 15 months from 1.5million people, finding that "human mobility traces are highly unique".
"A list of potentially sensitive professional and personal information that could be inferred about an individual knowing only his mobility trace was published recently by the Electronic Frontier Foundation," the authors said. "These include the movements of a competitor sales force, attendance of a particular church or an individual's presence in a motel or at an abortion clinic."
With a third of the 25billion apps available in Apple's App Store tracking your geographic location, there's reason for concern.
"All together," the paper continues, "the ubiquity of mobility datasets, the uniqueness of human traces, and the information that can be inferred from them highlight the importance of understanding the privacy bounds of human mobility."
"Modern information technologies such as the internet and mobile phones, however, magnify the uniqueness of individuals, further enhancing the traditional challenges to privacy. Mobility data is among the most sensitive data currently being collected," they said.
Is this the start of a big personal privacy scandal?