Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Bounty Hunters, Jealous Boyfriends, Stalkers, and Lazy Hit Men: How Much Should Your Phone Company Charge to Tell Them Where You Are Right Now?

Here's a question to ponder: To be fair and responsible, just how much should your phone company charge for your jealous boyfriend or angry ex-spouse to know where you are at the moment? How much should a stalker have to pay to track your location? Should the rates be higher for bounty hunters, lazy hit men, or anybody who wants to rough you up or even an old score? How about an employer or prospective employer who wants to see where you worship, or if you visit casinos, or attend political gatherings he or she doesn't like?

For a fair general price to give away your current location to anybody who wants to find you for any reason, would you pick: A) $300, B) $50, C) $12.95 or D) $4.95?

Good news! Whatever you picked, you're right! Those are all possible prices. So relax. But first, read this story from Motherboard by Joseph Cox: "I Gave a Bounty Hunter $300. Then He Located Our Phone," Motherboard, Jan 9, 2019. He notes that "T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T are selling access to their customers’ location data, and that data is ending up in the hands of bounty hunters and others not authorized to possess it, letting them track most phones in the country."



Again, please stay calm. Relax. Really, you can, because now that the big telecom companies have been called out on this corrupt and dangerous practice, several of them have assured us that they oppose this practice and aren't going to do it again. It's awesome to hear this assurance from them. Doubly awesome, in fact, because as Senator Ron Wyden told Motherboard, “For the second time in six months, carriers are pledging to stop sharing American’s location with middlemen without their knowledge. I’ll believe it when I see it.” Yep, they promised to stop six months ago, and now with this new promise, you can have faith (blind faith, in fact) that they are really going to stop this time.

Privacy issues continue to pose a threat to all of us, whether it's from the domestic spying one's own nation does on its citizens (thinking mostly of America's own NSA and the havoc they have brought with their advanced hacker tools that are being shared and used all over the world) or from others. It's an issue I care about greatly. But it's not just governments and hackers that pose threats to us. In far too many cases, it's reckless and greedy corporations who acquire and sell our data without our permission or carelessly let it slip into the hands of others.

Maintaining the right to privacy also ultimately relates to the issue of religious liberty. I personally feel that one can't have sound and lasting religious liberty while surrendering other liberty after liberty in the name of letting big government or big industry take care of us (the two are increasingly partners in the work on monitoring, tracking, and influencing citizens, it seems). I know, lunatic fringe, right? If you think I'm unhinged and dangerous for having such views, please let me know -- and also please leave your cell phone number. Why? So I can better understand where you're coming from, of course. :)



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I mostly agree with you on this, Jeff. But I do want to note that, even as you implicitly and rather rotely criticize "big government," you seem to be calling for an even bigger government than we have now.

You note that "In far too many cases, it's reckless and greedy corporations who acquire and sell our data without our permission or carelessly let it slip into the hands of others." But how can these practices be curtailed except by passing laws or regulations preventing them, and then empowering the government to enforce those laws and regulations? (Consumer market choice is clearly not going to do the trick.)

And by thus empowering the government, are you not making it "bigger"?

I guess my point is that a lot of the conservative railing against "big government" is pretty silly. Conservatives often support a more powerful government, just as liberals do --- they just differ on the reasons for it.

-- OK