You’re not giving has, but it is likely that someone somewhere knows that you are exactly where you are. And that someone has nothing to do with you. It only collects data under the guise of improving service, fight against terrorism, or study the behavior of mobile users. The excuses are not important. What is important is that our privacy is once again in play.

It is what is clear when one discovers things like that are happening in Dublin Airport, where passengers made to indiscriminate tracked through their mobiles with the only requirement that they have turned on the Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity. Note: you don’t need that they are connected to any network or device: just activate it, and they are trapped.

It is not an isolated case: the monitoring is massive

Rory Byrne, an expert in security and head of SecurityFirst, tried to explain how that airport data collection systems work, but mostly exposed to the situation is not an isolated case, and he remembered as one of the airports in Canada in which Edward Snowden documents made it clear that also these techniques were used to make a massive monitoring of travellers.

As claimed Byrne, “if I’m a passenger, I want to know how to use my data”, and that transparency is virtually non-existent. In the story that appeared in the Irish Independent a few days ago from Dublin airport managers Yes explained that these systems are used “to ensure that passengers do not pass more than half an hour in queues for security checks”. In their questions to those responsible, Byrne received a response little clarification: “personal data are not collected. Data only associated with the existence of a device with WiFi enabled connectivity. Not to its owner”.

@roryireland Rory, there is no personal data collected. The data relates purely to existence of Wi-Fi enabled device. Not who owns it.

— Dublin Airport (@DublinAirport) November 9, 2015

This expert spoke to us of how these systems they are scattered in all kinds of fields, and we can only hope to make its presence even further in the future. We have already spoken of the Beacons and this new commitment to privacy, and the consequences are evident:

It will be much easier than your boss (or your husband/wife) or your insurance company know exactly where you are […], and those requiring protection and privacy in their work, for example a social worker who is cited with a victim or a journalist who is cited with a source will have more chances to leave a digital fingerprint that endangers these persons.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the MLA

The so-called Mobile Location Analytics (MLA) is a set of techniques that are theoretically aimed at traders who can achieve reports on the activity of the clients based on the collection of MAC WiFi and Bluetooth addresses.

This is an example of a report generated from the collection of addresses MAC Bluetooth and Wi-Fi mobile device users

Those twelve digits that identify each WiFi and Bluetooth chipset on our phone are like the fingerprint of such devices: they identify them only and unequivocally, and it is possible to collect those MAC addresses so that any company, entity (or individual) can know what devices go through certain sites, at what times, and what is the duration of the “visit”.

In this collection of data only transfers the MAC address of our chip Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, no more. There are no phone numbers associated emails to our devices being transferred as part of that collection of data. That Yes we can infer from that information is the manufacturer of your device, as are granted to each range of MAC addresses.

The aim of this collection is according to companies that use it the “better understand the customer experience”, in such a way that it can extract data on what are the most visited areas of the store, long wait in the queue, or if it is possible to improve potential evacuation plans. All good arguments that do not respond to something inexcusable:

I have no clue of that are doing. Nobody is telling us.

How to avoid this data collection?

Exist, that Yes, some codes of conduct for the MLA (PDF) in which companies that sign it they renounce those data collection in devices which make the (low) “opt-out” of these systems.

The MAC stores Yes, but only with the objective discarded in case of being part of a report, and a form which allows that anyone can find WiFi MAC address and the MAC Bluetooth devices to add to that low of these collection systems is available.

The easiest way to avoid this type of data collection is nonetheless simple: you will have to disable the Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity in our Smartphone – or other mobile devices and here must be taken into account to the smart watches–something that obviously has an important counterpart: the of can not access part of the performance and functionality of these devices.

Indeed disable the connectivity not delivers us from this assault on our privacy, and there are other ways of tracking users. Since then occurs with the video surveillance cameras that can be found in shopping malls, airports, train stations and other many public establishments that Yes, have an obligation to show the existence of those cameras warnings.

But there are also less known as the use of the so-called methods IMSI-catchers (International Mobile Subscriber Identity), devices that allow spy phone activity and intercept data traffic and voice of these devices and their Geolocation. A good example of this type of solution is Stingray, this development used by the FBI and enforcement in the United States as shown if it can be used to fight crime.

And then we are the users, of course, that we install many applications on our smartphones and We do not pay attention to the permissions that I attach to those applications. Android thing is especially striking and we have a good example with what happened with the scandalous problem in Swype, which was our location 4,000 times a day, but in iOS, they are not exempt from these problems, and Facebook recently showed it.

But it is that those applications that collect the information in a way little transparent joined those that do as part of its functionality. Passive localization that we talked about last year has been for years the pillar of services like Foursquare, and that it has also resulted in the so-called environmental location where the application connects us to users who are close to us and with which we have common interests. Here there are examples such as Highlight, Sonar or Banjo, but certainly the best known is probably Tinder, that application of flirting that became a phenomenon of the mobility quickly.

Thus, although it is clear that we cannot control all the parameters that allow you to try to spy on us – that we become digital QUIXOTES – if we can treat of have some common sense take care and pamper our privacy.

In the new version of Android we can manage very powerful permissions grant to each application. What do you not like this game can access your GPS position or that tool to access your photos? You have the possibility to veto such access.

In 6.0 Android Marshmallow the fine controls permissions for applications – pity that such improvement will take to reach the users for many months – have appeared. Obviously we also have the ability to not install and use applications that abuse of these permits.

But we can also access terminals trying to precisely of give us even more guarantees in these themes. The Blackphone is clear example of this ambition by privacy and security, and although it is more oriented to business users – recently Blackphone 2 – has been launched, its features are useful for all types of users. We have to move.

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