Got a Google account? Using an activated Google Maps service on your smartphone? If the answer is yes then Google Tracking is now collating your every movement and recording it for posterity, with time stamped data about how long you were there and unerringly accurate plotlines on a map showing this activity in a kind of modern day Pepys diary.
The route to this information is simple. Go to maps.google.com/locationhistory as a logged-in Google user and your life and its journeys will open up in front of you on day views, weeks views or across a whole month. If you don’t like your privacy being invaded in this way, it is pretty simple to turn this system off. How many of us will?
As someone who makes a living from within the advertising industry, the creative left side of my brain began to generate useful by-products of this information being readily available.
Deep breath.. I currently have a clean licence, but supposing someone stole my car (but not my phone) and broke speed limits with abandon on the motorway to Manchester? I can now prove that I wasn’t where the car was.
If I had a suspicious wife (I don’t) who wanted to know my whereabouts on a particular day I can deliver the evidence to allay those suspicions along with accurate times and durations.
If I wanted to to prove to my employers that I have done the car mileage that I have claimed in my expenses, then it is a simple matter of reproducing a map similar to that below.
Accessing this data with the password of your child’s account on Google will enable any concerned parent to ‘watch’ the whereabouts of your offspring wherever they may wander.
Of course, the real potential for the Industry that I work in is to track the journeys and travel behaviour of people that we wish to communicate with and to interact with them on those journeys. That can be done via the smartphones that they are carrying to enable mobile wallets, QR Codes, GPS activated marketing , Bluetooth alerts when passing retail stores, or even talking poster sites that murmur persuasively to you when you walk past. Increasingly, we will be asked to join Facebook groups, Google+ consumer mobs, FourSquare review clusters, MeetUp interest collectives, Streetlife.com neighbourhood watch groups and many more.
Using Internet downstreaming to track your web life we can already follow your progress across the virtual world. With the help of Google Location History we don’t have to hover in alleyways, hunch down behind the wheel of anonymous pursuit vehicles or silently pad ten paces behind you on the mean streets of your town anymore.
You are handing it tied up in bows and ribbons to Google – and to any half-decent hacker that takes an interest in you.