Wireless apps lead to privacy concerns

Wireless apps lead to privacy concerns

Concerns about loss of privacy caused by the use of wireless devices will rock the budding wireless location industry, analysts and users warned last week.

"I think there are huge land mines with wireless ahead," said Alan Davidson, staff counsel at the Centre for Democracy and Technology, a public interest group.

The issue is especially acute with wireless vendors preparing location-based applications that will allow carriers and marketers to track the location of users and send them alerts about sales on services or personal goods, he said.

Compared to the privacy uproar over the wired Internet in recent years, privacy concerns over wireless will be "exponentially bigger," Davidson said at a conference of the Personal Communications Industry Association.

"The first time somebody steals location information on the whereabouts of a kid and he goes missing, there will be a backlash and lawsuits," he added. Or a phone company employee could have a crush on a woman with a cell phone and use the purloined data to follow her around, he said.

While vendors downplayed the potential hazards of location-based services, market analysts Risto Perttunen and William Passmore of consultancy firm McKinsey & Co said the concerns are real and that the industry isn't addressing the issue sufficiently.

"People have not realised the value of location services and have not realised the loss of privacy involved," Perttunen said.

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