Elevating Global Awareness

Location Data Privacy Guidelines Released

The Location Forum

Location Data Privacy Guidelines Released

The location forum’s privacy council recently released Location Data Privacy: Guidelines, Assessment & Recommendations. These groundbreaking guidelines represent the first industry-created set of best practices for improving how location data is gathered, used and managed, along with a ‘scorecard’ for quantitatively measuring a company’s privacy risk level.

“Much like financial and healthcare records, location data can reveal an enormous amount of personal and sensitive information about an individual,” explained Natasha Léger, President, The Location Forum and Editor, LBx Journal. “These guidelines enable users and companies to understand the value of the information so that they can both take the appropriate measures to safeguard what type of data is disclosed, and determine how it is used and shared.”

Location-based services and applications have become more than a technology or feature; they are an integral part of our lives. People define themselves not just by who they are, but where they are.

Location data is now everywhere, easily accessible, and collected at an unprecedented scale. In the Information Economy we live in, personal data and similar forms of information are the new currencies. Location data is the universal link between all data, because everything and everyone is somewhere.

For businesses, location information can transform virtually every facet of an enterprise from operations to sales and marketing, customer care and even product development—all with a goal of having a positive impact on the bottom line. It is therefore rapidly becoming the newest “information weapon” used by CIOs, CMOs, COOs and digital strategists to gain a competitive advantage.

The problem with location data today is that it changes as it weaves through various hands—applications, vendors, developers, government, companies, data providers, and individual users. Another complication is the diversity of legal protections across countries and states that make developing a consistent privacy policy a moving target. All this is set against a business atmosphere of continuous pressure to develop innovative location-based products and services.

The power, benefits, and also the risks associated with location data are in its capacity to infer more personally identifiable information than the face value of the original information. While consumers and businesses are deriving great value from location-based services, targeted advertising and other applications, significant questions persist around location data privacy. In particular, how is location data being shared, who has access to it, and who controls it?

The Location Data Privacy Guidelines were developed for those on the front lines of location data product and services development, as well as those who hold corporate, legal or fiduciary responsibilities. They bring attention to issues that many organizations and companies have chosen to ignore, due to lack of legal certainty around requirements, and provide a framework of location data practices for developers, managers, marketers, and executives.

The guidelines define location data broadly. If you are a geospatial professional, you need to read these guidelines and take the Location Data Privacy Risk and Transparency Assessment to determine if your location data management practices pose any potential privacy risks.

You can download the guidelines at www.thelocationforum.org/privacy.