Privacy and the Devil Pact

February 15, 2012  - By

In the public dialogue about mobile privacy concerns, I’ve yet to hear a plea to turn back the clock to when mobile apps were supported by subscription fees. Surprisingly, many consumers don’t understand the devil pact that free services come with a loss of privacy. With the exception of enterprise offerings, subscription fees have shrunk or disappeared for most location-based services. At the Institute for Communication Technology Management at the University of Southern California, Allison Cera of Lucent-Alcatel talked about the intersection of technology and identity. More than half of the people in her study felt they shouldn’t have to provide information about themselves just to get the most out of online services. Among the most connected technology users, the expectation of privacy was lower.

As companies rework privacy agreements, it’s interesting that Cera’s research indicates people prefer a simpler privacy policy that is easier to understand, over one that provides more comprehensive protection. In addition to simplicity, people prefer uniformity. Almost 90 percent want to see Internet and mobile service providers, social networking sites, and search engines all governed by the same laws and regulations regarding the collecting, analyzing, and sharing of online data.

Google knows all? Google has experienced heat from lawmakers and consumers over its efforts to consolidate user privacy standards and share data among its offerings. Google announced plans to connect user data across desktop and mobile services including Google+, Gmail and YouTube. “Our new privacy policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services,” blogged Alma Whitten of Google. “In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”

You know where I’ve been. Would consumers exchange transparency into whereabouts and driving behavior for a cheaper insurance premium?  TomTom is providing the technology behind a new insurance product, which bases premiums on driving behavior. TomTom has teamed up with insurance broker Motaquote for the launch of Fair Pay Insurance, a product that rewards “good” drivers with lower premiums. Drivers who sign up for Fair Pay receive a TomTom navigation device. They will also have a LINK tracking unit fitted in their vehicles, allowing driver behavior and habits to be monitored by the insurer. This information can also be viewed by the policy-holder in their driver dashboard.

A kick without GPS. Mobile location-based advertising, dependent on geo-locating shoppers, hasn’t ramped up as fast as the industry diviners predicted, but shopkick, a location-based shopping app has gotten traction. The company asserts that it helped drive $110 million of in-store revenue to its retail partners in 2011.  shopkick rewards shoppers for walking into stores and interacting with products.  The solution is not GPS based, as indoor signals remain problematic. Instead, the shopkick phone app detects its presence in a particular store by “hearing” a signal that is emitted from a store-based device. The store is able to send the shopper a reward that can be redeemed for loot.

Pressure mounts for LightSquared. Sprint has given LightSquared until mid-March to obtain FCC clearance for its LTE network.  Recent government tests showed that LightSquared interfered with GPS, even under a new deployment plan that the company promoted as a fix to the issue.  Lightsquared’s assertion that GPS receivers are “not entitled to any interference protection whatsoever” is open for public comment at the FCC until March 13. Harbinger Capital, the hedge fund that backs LightSquared, reported a 47% decline in its biggest fund.

Love on the Road. Valentine’s Day was yesterday, and love is in bloom. TomTom undertook a mission to find love on the asphalt by seeking roads in the U.S. that are considered romantically named.  Texas was a stand out with 102 miles of romantically named roads.  Who would’ve thought that the lone star state was such a softie? The most common romantic road names are Rose Road, Lover’s Lane, Valentine Road, Darling Road and Love Street.  TomTom counted roads throughout the U.S. containing the words: Couples, Cupid, Darling, Forget-Me-Not, Kiss, Love, Lover, Romance, Rose, Smooch, Sweetheart, Valentine. Smooch Street?

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About the Author:

Janice Partyka is principal of JGP Services,, a consulting practice that helps companies with marketing strategy, including investigating new markets, ensuring product roadmaps match market needs, and creating marketing campaigns. Janice develops websites, social media, public relations and overall marketing communication. She also works as an expert witness for the mobile industry and conducts prior art searches for patent cases. Janice has served in leadership capacities in the wireless industry, leading marketing, business development, media and government relations, including serving as vice president of external affairs for TechnoCom Corporation. She briefed the Obama transition team on broadband issues. Janice was a twice-elected member of the board of directors of the E9-1-1 Institute, which supports the work of the U.S. Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus to ensure implementation of wireless E9-1-1, and she was telecom liaison to the Intelligent Transportation Society's World Congress. Janice is a frequent speaker at mobile and location industry events. Her webinars on mobile applications and technologies draw audiences from more than 40 countries. Janice Partyka is also the founder of, a web service that helps college students find the right major that will lead to a satisfying career. Contact: Janice Partyka at, Free subscriptions to Wireless LBS Insider are available at

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