Right now the average user does not care at all about security and privacy except the small niche groups of us on HN, Reddit and other tech/Geek forums. The regular average user will continue to still use Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple etc. As long as the average user keeps using their services and vote with their data and wallets I doubt much will change anytime soon.
Until we get some real data privacy laws and regulation we just have to matters into our own hands. I don't use Google search unless I need to, and always have my VPN on (Mullvad).
Edit: Then again, once we did get data privacy laws and regulation could we actually trust the companies and politicians and LE. Probably not. That's why I also feel the laws and regulation needed for tech is more of like a "The public thinks we did something" type of situation. There will still and always will be under the table deals.
If the regular user can realize eventually how they feed these companies with their data and what happens with their data it could also hinder or start to hinder data collection at the government level (NSA, GCHQ, Project Raven and so on).
When I talk to non HN crowd.
* Apple's efforts around blocking CASM are applauded
* Folks are GLAD that cops are using tech to catch criminals
* Folks don't have a ton of trust that the regulations will help their lives, or block govt from doing things, but do imagine they will be annoying (more permission banners / cookies popups etc).
It would be interesting to look at other countries where the govt has gotten more hands on with regulations in this area (data retention etc). I know in some spaces I've seen the regulations actually end up REQUIRING retention of records, or the liability risks require retention of video for a long time (ie, railroads have REALLY dialed up use of video given the claims they were facing in terms of running into people - once they started tracking a retaining a lot more - claims went way down - not saying folks were lying before but they are going to push back on getting rid of their data collection at this point unless laws change).
The narrative that is commonly recounted is that it's obvious that the people in authority are either incredibly incompetent or crazily power-hungry, and both are leading many of my family and friends to question everything. I mean total normies who are otherwise just typical taxpayers.
It's funny in a Kafka kinda way to witness the slow erosion of trust in institutions.
Don't get me wrong, I love institutions. Just seems to me and basically everyone I know that the people who should know the most about how trust is built, do everything possible to kill off that trust.
I've heard of people going in completely the opposite direction, taking on overtly authoritarian and "might-makes-right" kind of views too. I think the pandemic really gave the moral authoritarians and curtain-twitchers of this world a great big stick to hit everyone else with, which to be honest scares me more than the pandemic itself did.
This is very much a stance of "oafish hands for thee, but none for me." The same institutional mass of "oafish hands" that interferes in your personal life does the same to everyone engaging with social services. And while , in many cases, you can opt out of those social services at some expense to yourself, the market equivalents/alternatives will, over time, be weakened or killed the same way as you would see with any other deep-pocketed firm selling a product for below-market prices, at a loss, to smoke out smaller competitors.
I can't speak for the UK, but in the US this has brought us such dire consequences as bulldozing of poor neighborhoods for de-humanizing, car-dependent housing projects; the near-dissolution of the institution of marriage for lower classes; and a healthcare system where buyer and seller have become so thoroughly de-coupled as to disarm the pricing mechanism completely and make it impossible to pay real prices for services outside of collective bargaining arrangements.
What market equivalents are you talking about exactly?
The examples you mentioned are hardly the results of "oafish hands".
Marriage? The free market has run amok with building an entire industry and "chic" around large elaborate marriage ceremonies, replete with gratuitous mark ups on relatively everyday services. As far as the institution goes, marriage in the colloquial sense is fine. Couples form and union all the time. Legally speaking, you may have a point, but I've always held the State being involved with marriage in anything more than a record keeping capacity, and acting as a neutral arbiter of inheritance, dissolution, or adoption/parental status quo setting is a terrible idea. As an example, the practice of not getting on paper married for the benefit of welfare or food stamp eligibility is one such example.
>Bulldozing of poor neighborhoods for car dependent housing projects
Welcome to real estate as investment, and the tendency of all idle capital to seek forms that facilitate rent extraction. The lack of "public transit" has more to do with the fact that nobody wants to be burdened with actually giving up a piece of their pie for it, but expects everyone else to. The only "oafish hands" there are the councils who are continually courted by moneyed interests in the free market.
Welcome to insurance in a nutshell. It completely destroys any semblance of coupling between producer and consumer of service; but is also the inevitable out one of a "captive" consumer population. The combination of service provider cartelry, consolidation of insurers, and perverse incentives created by the free market in terms of businesses becoming targets for
Investment funds; it's really the market you should be blaming there.
Edit: I just realized my second question is somewhat US-centric so if you aren't from the US then I apologize, please disregard that comment.
Many of my friends and family have had their closest interaction with the government be taxes & vehicle registration at the DMV - inconveniences, but not much more.
What you list are indeed spectacular failures, but they happened “over there” or “to other people”.
Suddenly, the government is telling _them_ they can’t buy something, they they have to wear a mask, they have to inject something in their body, they can’t go to a concert. Many in my circle have never felt the hand of government so directly.
That’s what’s new and remarkable for a lot of people.
Also maybe you might want to help by explaining to them: it's not the government that was doing those things, it's the virus that was making it so they can’t buy something, they they have to wear a mask, they have to inject something in their body, they can’t go to a concert, etc. The government can only enforce the will of the people, which in this case happens to be fear of an unprecedented attack by a deadly virus. It's totally understandable that this type of global pandemic would be new and remarkable for a lot of people.
The difference between my government's response to the virus and the Swedish government's response was not determined by covid's preferences. Humans made these policies.
>The government can only enforce the will of the people...
The government is enforcing the will of the medical establishment. We didn't get polled on "6' vs 8' social distancing" or "should cloth masks be required or is a bandana acceptable?".
Yes, but my point is that those policies were only made in response to the virus. They were not made for no reason, and of course different groups of people will respond to the virus in different ways.
>The government is enforcing the will of the medical establishment.
I don't understand what the difference here is supposed to be, anyone who seeks medical care in that country could be considered part of the medical establishment, or at least considered as having some kind of investment in the will of that medical establishment.
>We didn't get polled on "6' vs 8' social distancing" or "should cloth masks be required or is a bandana acceptable?".
I'm also confused by this complaint, how often do questions like these show up on a ballot? Usually ballot measures are not this specific.
There is no unified 'will of the people.' I would agree that, in many cases, governments were criminalizing behavior which communities had already curtailed, so to that extent they were following wills of many people. In this case, why not let those same people who chose the actions take the blame or appreciation for their actions, rather than saying it was government?
I've moved about a decent amount in Covid times (after community spread was a fact of life in all those places). While moving throughout places within particular Covid-rule jurisdictions and looking across spans of time, the people I encounter are far stronger predictors of e.g. mask-wearing behavior than recent executive orders. Communities that want to wear masks continued to do so when civil authorities said they weren't necessary and cases were low, and communities that wanted to never wear masks stuck to their plans even when civil authorities ordered masks (with barely enough begrudging, targeted compliance to continue about their days) and cases were spiking.
I don't think this is a useful thing to say, it seems to suggest that a given group of people can't reach consensus, when this is not really the case.
>Communities that want to wear masks continued to do so [...] and communities that wanted to never wear masks stuck to their plans
In my opinion that illustrates why I think any kind of reactions to this are a bit odd. It's very hard to enforce a mask mandate in every possible area in a jurisdiction. So the strategy has to be done by tackling big targets (enforcing the mandates only in densely populated areas, empowering private businesses/organizations to kick people out who endanger other people's safety, stopping people from mass spreading misinformation on social media, etc).
What I've seen is that people who were discreetly throwing parties and were being cautious about the virus didn't have any problems. But it's still risky and they still face penalties if they get get caught, because of course once someone causes a super-spreader event and people end up in the hospital, then it can easily be traced back there, and that's where I'd expect those people to be held liable. So in that sense, yeah you could say they could take blame for their actions after the fact, but that doesn't really help much either if it caused a large number of other people to get sick. We could very directly trace that back to deliberate actions taken by someone knowing full well that it could harm others.
This is even ignoring the massive set of additional laws and regulations you have to comply with you if you own a business.
COVID was the first in most people's experience when their government just went and upended their lives. Starting next week schools are closed. Two weeks from now, you can't go do anything other than work and shop. Stay away from other people or else. That includes babysitters. Oh, and your workplace is ordered to close indefinitely for now.
Whether justified or not, this is an entirely different category from the usual mucking around regulations at the edges, or playing cat and mouse game with white-collar fraudsters (which causes many, if not most, of the business-related law changes).
And sure, this is an emergency. But the point is, most people alive - at least in the West - never experienced a national-level emergency before.
* Seat belt laws
* Can't smoke in bars and restaurants
* Can't smoke within 50 feet of a door
* Unaccompanied children at a park being considered neglect
* Illegal to use a mobile phone while driving
* Mandatory emissions checks to register a car
* Legal mandates for chicken pox vaccine
* Taking your shoes off and going through a body scanner to get on an airplane
* Time of day/time of week restrictions on alcohol sale (existed when I was born, but not where I lived, so new to me when I moved to Texas)
* Restrictions on how much sudafed you can buy
* Restrictions on filling out of state prescriptions forcing me to pick up and mail medication to my wife when she was traveling
* Real ID laws forcing me to make an appointment 9 months in advance and show up with what felt like 18 different types of proof I lived where I said I did in order to be able to vote
* The State of Texas apparently just passed a law saying my block of 6 townhomes now needs to keep minutes and retain paper records and send all communications to each other via registered mail even though we live 20 feet from each other
* I guess it's now illegal to get an abortion here?
Granted, none of these ever happened all at once in response to an emergency. I guess your friends are just lucky to have never lived in a place that experienced an emergency before this? Living through the LA riots wasn't all that pleasant, either. Anyone who has ever lived through a hurricane has not only been told they have to close their business, but they have to abandon their homes completely and leave the city without any guarantee they'll ever be able to return.
Sure, a national level emergency hasn't happened since the 1940s, and almost nobody alive today experienced that, but it is weird to see the divergence in response. As far as I know, shared sacrifice and repurposing of private goods to public purposes in the 1940s had the exact opposite effect. Especially since the measures were far more drastic. We didn't confiscate property and force Chinese Americans into internment camps this time around.
Consider the mistakes of the WHO. Failure to recommend and even decrying early border closures, failure to declare a pandemic until months after evident global spread, and saying masks positively do not work and then dragging their feet for months on the question.
Contrast that to how the WHO reacted to the first SARS, and we can observe a significant deterioration in competence. I could be mistaken, but it doesn't seem that it's just that we are hearing more about incompetence or have short memories.
I can only speculate on the reasons for this. Political polarization leading to affiliation over competence in hiring decisions, more corruption due to cronyism, diversity over competence in hiring decisions, or overly risk-averse decision making due to fear of social media mobs, are candidate explanations.
My concern, the HN crowd is yelling for more govt regulation, but the average person actually thinks Apple, not the govt, makes reasonable tradeoffs (security, privacy, CASM etc) and might actually trust folks like apple or google MORE than if for example the govt set up an email service.
This is because those laws rarely have teeth at all. I don't want "ACCEPT BUTTON FOR MARKETING PERMISSION", I want all remarketing and persistent cross site tracking to be illegal. Period.
Not talking about the abuse of innocents here, or warrantless intrusions into your data, just the core of what you're saying.
For example, imaging you have a suspect and want to trail them. The courts have established that you have no expectation of privacy when in a public area, so an officer can trail your car and watch where you go. You only have so many officers, and so there are implicit limits on how many people you can trail in person. But if instead of sending an officer to trail a suspect, you attach a GPS tracker to the suspect's car, suddenly that restriction is removed. Instead of spending weeks trailing a single suspect, you could attach dozens of trackers to dozens of cars, or you could request location data from a third party. The lower cost of breaking somebody's privacy allows it to be done more frequently, even if the explicit legal protections haven't changed.
The problem isn't the technology itself, but that protections of privacy and protections against unreasonable searches haven't advanced alongside the technology.
There is no need for the amount of law enforcement I have in my county of Marin.
They would then have more time to put GPS's on vechicles, and less time for Revenue Collection.
"Law enforcement" is always used as a reason to invade privacy. Searching smartphones wasn't envisioned by the founding fathers but is exactly what they were talking about when it was written into the constitution.
I suspect plenty of folks agree with me.
My point is, the HN outrage at things like tech to solve crimes (because of privacy etc issues) is in many cases not shared more broadly.
Furthermore many are indeed critical of big tech and how they censor and modify information for political convenience. They are also aware about oversharing on social media.
The only possible way to fix these problems is to code solutions into the fabric of society. And to do that you need a young molten society of people that fundamentally communicate using a common implementation language working toward a shared vision. This society understands the principles supporting the solutions and is willing to sacrifice in order to maintain a system which innately resists deprivation of liberty. You need birth and.. eventually.. death. We won’t see meaningful data privacy without a revolution.
On some days I feel this way.
1. Buy some legit(ish) dataset for marketing purposes. I hear DMVs in the US like to sell people's data.
2. Do a direct marketing job: send every single person in the dataset a snail mail letter with a printout of all the data you have on them, and a reference to where you got it from. I hear USPS offers good rates for bulk spam campaigns; they apparently live off it.
That sounds like something that is in range of crowdfunding money, could possibly be fully legal, and sidesteps the issue of news outlets killing the message, with (as I recently heard) their policy of not reporting data from leaked datasets.
Scale up what they did to Trump for this NY Times piece: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/20/opinion/locat...
See if people keep clicking "Allow" on their phone games after that goes out..
Of course, what'd actually happen is everyone would just attack the messenger. Maybe there'd be some super half-assed knee-jerk law thrown into place
If I ever get terminal cancer I'll see if I can throw something together before I kick the bucket, haha.
Not only would the laws quickly change but also we'd soon learn about some of the nefarious antics and unsavory deals made by our governors.
And the Strava on military bases thing. https://www.wired.com/story/strava-heat-map-military-bases-f...
The constant focus on the majority of web users, i.e., "the average user", is misplaced and suffers from an incorrect assumption. Namely, that a majority of the public needs to support some law before it can be passed by a legislature.
Most legislation does not come from mass outpouring of support by the public, like the kind "HN/Reddit/other tech/Geek forum" comments call for. It comes from lobbying, usually professional, and sometimes community activism. The same "niche" groups that people in the these forums like to downplay are not necessarily much smaller and may even be larger than groups who have successfully gotten laws passed at state and federal levels. What is necessary is some number of people who do understand the issues to initiate the lobbying and campaigning; the awareness and support of the "average constituent" is never a prerequisite. Nor is it true that every law passed serves an enormous number of constituents, i.e., "the average constituent". Sometimes laws only serve small groups of people who have special needs (or wants).
The notion of the "average user" really has no bearing on whether legislation is passed or not. What matters is the small group of people who are driving the campaign to have legislation passed. That group is unlikely to comprise the "average user", its going to be people who understand the issues to which the proposed law is targeted and can articulate them to people who know how to work the system to get laws passed.
The more middlemen people accept when using the internet, the more parties that can be subpoenaed. Those are the consequences of "cloud computing" and "SaaS". But to think that no law can be passed to address the harms that "tech" companies present, because the "average user" does not understand these problems, makes no sense. Stop focusing on "the average user". Thats for the "tech" companies to do. For the non-average users, its a waste of time.
You see this everywhere not only with security etc. but also in many other areas. A classic case is copyright law where a small number of powerful people have hijacked the debate and managed to impement grosely unfair laws in their favor. They're so organized and powerful that they've not only been successful domestically but also internationally with treaties etc. It's almost impossible to break these nexes when the populace at large is so complacent.
In short, our current democratic structures favor the powerful, money-rich and organized at the expense of the disinterested who are disinterested because they're not yet aware of the issues involved and thus don't yet know that they stand to lose or be disadvantaged. There is no effective advocacy system to support them and conterbbalance the push at the early stages of law formation and thus we end up with laws that overcompensate the initial lobby and which are extremely hard to unwind later, especially so when international treaties are involved.
Outside a revolution I cannot see change happening and revolutions are the very last thing we need, they end up disastrously for everyone.
It's all rather depressing really.
I disagree. The problem with (multi-party) based democracy is that it is way more important to be popular with the party seniority, than with the constituents.
If fact, if you want to be a member of a parliament, its essential to first be popular with the party, before you get a shot at being popular with your voters.
Nevertheless, same goes here, there's insufficient interest from the citizenry to break that nexus too. Breaking party loyalty etc. to obtain a fairer system has been the bane of modern democracy for hundreds of years - back to Hobbes, Locke etc. As I said it's depressing that there's no easy solution.
Edit: Same goes for any lobby who wields effective power over the elected, remember Edmund Burke got the shift from the electors of Bristol when he dared move off their agenda to put broader (national) interest first. Whilst this broader approach seems fairer/better for all it's nevertheless a double-edge sword though, as it allows politicalians an excuse to pursue another agenda - one that may not be in either the electors' or national interest but rather that of a third party or even him or herself. The problem remains, we've no effective way of fixing it/balancing all interests fairly.
Microsoft is pretty major, and makes money not from ads
Google says geofence warrants make up one-quarter of all US demands - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28266650 - Aug 2021 (259 comments)
New Federal Court Rulings Find Geofence Warrants Unconstitutional - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24342049 - Sept 2020 (29 comments)
Google Gives Feds 1,500 Phone Locations in Unprecedented ‘Geofence’ Search - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21773543 - Dec 2019 (269 comments)
Recall is sometimes fuzzy with age, but it works well enough, and I don't have to worry about external queries violating my various rights nearly as much as with tech companies.
At this point, I think every piece of modern consumer electronics ought to be considered hostile until proven benign. I've worked with enough of them over the years, on different ends, to no longer trust any of them.
I'm also old enough to remember the before-times - when there wasn't the technology to track us everywhere, or, when we did have something breadcrumbing, it wasn't being automatically uploaded to whoever, wherever, etc.
My first question, though, would be "Why?" What value do you get out of tracking your location with any great detail that self hosting it would be of much value? However, various cheap GPS loggers and Google Earth import probably would do a lot of what you're looking for.
I don't understand the point you're making (unless you're being snarky.) You recognize that most other users of Google Location History can do the same?
> My first question, though, would be "Why?" What value do you get out of tracking your location with any great detail that self hosting it would be of much value?
Another way of framing is what utility Location History can provide to users. Some use cases are casual ("Where did I go exactly on this trip two years ago?", "Where did I eat when I was in X city 9 months ago?", etc) while other people have personal uses for it: https://towardsdatascience.com/analyzing-my-google-location-...
> However, various cheap GPS loggers and Google Earth import probably would do a lot of what you're looking for.
That would probably work, as well perhaps another OSM-based mapping application. I don't know the value of all that extra metadata which is computed though (as highlighted in the above article).
I am. I'm referring to my brain in a "tech industry buzzword" way. It is, technically speaking, a trained neural network. Just a biological one, not a silicon/code based one. I happen to like it, and it can also do things like tell the difference between a low moon in the sky through a smoke haze and a traffic light.
> Another way of framing is what utility Location History can provide to users.
"If there are any positives, then the technology is worth using!" style thinking misses, entirely, the concept of opportunity cost, and the various downsides.
I won't argue that it's not pretty cool to see everywhere you've been - but it's also an exceedingly detailed record of who you are, and anyone who claims it can be suitably anonymized is full of crap (see the Grindr Bishop for a solid case study here).
Where I really start to get upset, though, is that there's no opt-in for this, other than some vague, generic, "nobody reads this and it doesn't say anything anyone would understand anyway" clickthroughs.
Android doesn't have a, "Would you like us to keep a record of your location and everywhere you've been? You can review it later and see what cool places you've been!" sort of opt-in. It just does it.
Google clearly is getting some value from that data, and it's not at all clear what it is.
I view it similarly as others looking at methods to self-host their photo backup with timeline indexing and searching, etc.
"the advantages of Location History"
I thought that this data would be useful to help geotag the photos in my iPhoto library. So I wrote a little script to parse the iPhone data, and cross-match the timestamps with photos. Never became really popular though, probably because people now use phones to take photos and they already include the location in the EXIF data.
"keeping that data to themselves"
Once the bug was fixed, and Apple stopped storing location data indefinitely, I thought it would be kind of handy as a feature. So I wrote a little PHP script that ran on my jailbroken iPhone and saved a log of my location every 30 minutes.
It recorded data from
Monday, May 12, 2014 3:44:52 PM
Wednesday, April 8, 2015 9:00:06 AM
My battery life got worse, because the GPS kept turning on. During that whole year, I never wanted to check the data, not even once. So I turned off the script. Not tracking myself made me less self-conscious about where I was walking and what I was doing, and it was a relief.
I do use an iPhone, but it's an old 4S with iOS 6.1.3, and I only switch on 3G rarely in case of emergencies. I don't use iCloud for backup, only USB sync. The phone companies will know my location, but Apple probably don't. With the security features all compromised through jailbreaking, I can see everything on my phone so I know what data they could possibly get. And that's good enough for me.
For me the most uncomfortable thing I ever did was itemise how much money I had spent at different outlets. I discovered that I'd spent an incredible amount of money scuba diving over a 12 month period. Not something that I wanted to share with my partner.
Like you, I started logging my expenses too! And I still do that. I'm using some scripts on my phone, with one icon on the homescreen for each kind of expense, logging to a TSV.
It has made me more self-conscious about spending money, but that's probably a good thing! Pressuring me to give more money to beggars and spend less on bubble tea.
 UncleBob applied "clean as you go" to code, too https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSaAMQVq01E&t=2021s
Even my partner's cat will stop eating its meal if I stare at it whilst it's eating (yes, it's a bit neurotic). (But unlike Google, Facebook, the Government etc. I'm immediately in trouble for teasing the cat.)
If you're trying to make a point to someone about how much of a problem data collection, use, abuse, etc, is - link them to the place they can view their own history. It's even more fun if you're with them and can watch the expression of utter horror form as they realize just what, exactly, literally everywhere they've been can tell someone else about them. "Hey, isn't that the kink club out there?"
Even on my phone when I search for "tires in <city>" it assumes I mean a city in the east coast of the US. Maps/Waze are only marginally better, showing me results 170+ miles from my current location, generally.
I use trackmenot and ad nauseam plugins on my main computer, so my ads are always 100% irrelevant - if I see them at all. Ad nauseam clicks every ad it sees, and stores the banner. It tries to track how many dollars of ad spend its wasted on your behalf, too. I'm somewhere north of $17k at this point lifetime clicks.
I know I'm not winning this fight but I can make it more hilarious for me in the meantime.
 google routinely can't, and i stopped using search because it made me do photo captchas every time. If google can't, i'm guessing other people are going to have less luck.
All geolocation based on GSM cells and wifi sends your location continuously.
If your threat level is NSA/nation state then this isn't good enough since they probably could get a copy before Google deletes it but it is probably enough to be useless for low level LE.
Did you realize that the world is a step away from total Panopticon (https://shorturl.at/mCJK2).
The "digital natives" don't care at all.
The "millenials" are just ignorant.
The "X-ers" are fighting to stay relevant and "young".
The "boomers" are screaming from the trenches, but the echo is responding with the usual "OK. Boomer".
It is over. This is the Great Reset, created by Davos Elites
and embraced by Corporations, Governments and "modern" people of the world.
This is the direct result of corrupted societies which abandoned classical education and liberal arts long time ago.
If I switch OwnTracks to "move mode", it's great, but then it drains battery like crazy. "Significant changes mode" doesn't really cut it to map out my track as I move around during the day. And it's especially annoying because I do have it set up to trigger some lights to turn on in my house when I get within 500 feet of home. Sometimes it'll finally trigger an hour or two after I get home, which isn't particularly useful. I've exempted the app from Android's "battery optimization" thing, and I'm using a Pixel 4, which shouldn't have any shenanigans like killing background apps frequently like some other manufacturers do.
Out of self-interest, where would one check to (eventually) find this write-up? Sounds like OP hadn't known just how long OT takes to update on Android, which makes me assume other information out there may be out of date, or someone else's best case scenario (as opposed to real-world usage).
The only trouble Iǘe had is that the Android app sometimes crashes and I have to manually launch it again. There are other compatible apps that I haven tried, though.
Creating expectations around accepting surveillance is not healthy.
I also like to look for places I've been in the past and Google maps can tell me the dates I've been to a specific place in the past.
So it does provide quite a lot of value at least for me. I completely understand the sentiment that seems to be a majority on hacker news how that's quite a bad idea, how I'm giving away my privacy for convenience and yada yada. But I made the personal decision that Yes it's worth exposing this data to Google and possibly law enforcement that require Google to disclose this information for the convenience I get in return.
I don't leave obvious digital traces and I think people wanting to know this info can find different hobbies and better jobs.
It could also connect to a URL of your specification to upload real-time updates.
Keep in mind that if you're not concerned about immediate tracking you can log locally then use any of many options (e.g. FolderSync) to do scheduled uploads of a log file.
I can export my data and then use that how I want.
Or you save to Gpx files and see history with any Gpx File Viewer
The "protocol" consists of a single HTTP request and response, so you can easily write your own server software to store the data however you want, which is what I did.
If you don't want to write your own backend, you can also just use the server software the author of the app uses, which is also open source.
EDIT: I use it to do home automation actions depending on where I am. I.e. when I leave, it automatically arms the alarm and turns off the lights.
You can configure a custom https endpoint and then your devices will ping the endpoint when there's significant movement.
Same thing could be said about IOS with the additional constraint that the vendor can do whatever it wants and we don't know what it's actually doing.
If you care about privacy just don't carry a phone.
I feel like this position is unrealistic. Privacy is possible with a modern smartphone. Using an alternative OS on Android devices can help facilitate this. I've been using GrapheneOS as a daily driver for nearly six months now. Any issues I've run into have largely been due to my own configuration of the device.
You can also get a lot of useful information from Michael Bazzell's books or podcasts. It may involve jumping through hoops but it is possible to go "off grid" in many regards.
If your threat model includes your cell provider, then yes, a faraday bag may be worth looking into. There are also open alternatives like the Librem 5 or PinePhone that offer hardware kill switches. These types of cases are rare, but one doesn't need to become a complete technophobe.
As it stands, true privacy is relegated to the technologically elite, the truly paranoid, or those that can pay to play. I would love for that to change, but unfortunately that's the current state of affairs.
Or the broke who can't afford the devices now more and more used against us.
Or those who are willing to forgo the conveniences of such devices in exchange for privacy. Or, simply for the sanity of not having to deal with them.
I'm firmly in the boat of "Could do any or all of those things" - I considered a PinePhone, have a PineBook Pro, could easily do GrapheneOS, and... I'm currently using none of them. I'm using an AT&T Flip IV that I leave at home regularly. If I have some fancy requirement, I can tether a laptop to it.
You start from the assumption that a smartphone of some variety or another is a requirement - and I'll counter that, while it's certainly the default option of modern life, the smartphone is really only a decade old, and there are ways of doing things without it we can go back to - and those things do generally still work.
I'm at a point in my life where both I can be a bit annoying about things like reachability, and, interestingly, I'm hostile enough to tech that people expect me to be a bit weird about things. Nobody was surprised when I showed up with a flip phone - but they were surprised that I still had things like email and Google Maps capability on it (KaiOS). At which point, the gears started turning.
Trying to find a way to de-evil what is looking more and more like a corrupted, user-hostile system through and through doesn't seem worth the time, when one can work towards not requiring people to be in that system in the first place.
Remember, when Steve Jobs' biographer asked him what his kids thought about the iPad, his response was, "They haven't used it." You're more likely to find the "cellphone free" group among high level tech execs and such.
Why is that? It's worth pondering.
I know more and more people, deeply in tech professionally, who are opting out of it in their personal life, across the board. They know what it can do, they've seen it, may have worked on older versions of it, and simply want no part of it anymore.
In a former life when internal company email was becoming a thing, there were execs at my computer company that made one of these minicomputer-based office productivity systems who had their admins print out their email, they'd write responses by hand, and have the admin send the response.
This is true, kind of like how most drug dealers don't do drugs themselves.
Carrying a phone at all times is more a matter of social pressure than anything else. If you get into a real emergency situation, you can just ask someone if you can make a call from their phone -- after all, the world is full of people walking around with phones in their pocket.
Leaving your phone at home most of the time is a little inconvenient, but it's certainly not unrealistic. It's just that most of people are happy to trade privacy for convenience.
I'm not sure it's unrealistic but the tradeoffs for ditching a phone entirely day-in day-out wouldn't work for most people.
As you say there are alternatives for smartphones and one could presumably alternatively carry a feature phone that can't be easily tied to their identity. (Although there's an increasing assumption that you have a smartphone to accomplish various tasks.)
Indeed, because... basically everyone carries one.
So, in order to counter that, more people need to not carry one. Not just object to using smartphones, but, "Look, I literally don't own one, I know you want me to install thus and such app to complete some survey before entering the building, but I can't. What's the alternative?"
The phone I do use I bricked for all activity save voice and text: it sits on my kitchen table and there it stays. The upshot is that my phones are inexpensive, <$100. In fact, I just purchased a new one and am pleasantly surprised at the voice quality of 4G LTE.
Certainly most people with jobs cannot afford to be out of touch and I understand it is a luxury to be un-tethered. However, my position in fed security and CI drove home the point: If you are connected with a cell phone, you're going to get pwned. The level of pwnage is directly proportional to your status and employer.
IMO it's a bit nihilistic compared to pushing for privacy guards for infrastructure.
Has anyone ever been exonerated based on their Google location history?
It's not great.
If they really want, they can see the distance from the tower because that's a requirement for the communications protocol to work (LTE at least expects to account for lightspeed delay in allocating transmission slots) and gets measured during the communications, so the operator should be able to see that distance to the granularity of something like 100m (or is it less nowadays?); but AFAIK that's usually not stored unless you're in a 911 call or perhaps with some tracing warrant.
”To correctly form a beam, the transmitter needs to understand the characteristics of the channel. This process is called channel sounding or channel estimation. A known signal is sent to the mobile device that enables it to build a picture of the channel environment. The mobile device sends back the channel characteristics to the transmitter. The transmitter can then apply the correct phase and amplitude adjustments to form a beam directed at the mobile device. This is called a closed-loop MIMO system.”
This is also speculation on my part but I'd suspect they're targeting specific clusters of devices in an area and using multiplexing than having dozens of radios on one tower.
I feel like Google's location history is basically built for that kind of thing.
We learned from the Snowden leaks that the US government constitutionally doesn't need a warrant to request any of this information if you are outside of the US if Google is holding the data domestically on servers in the US. And it makes so many of these requests Google has self-service systems for the US government to access accounts of non-US-persons directly.
This is probably happening all the time for non-Americans.
Still the best advice. Rather than storing it and then worrying about where it goes, just don't store it.
However, you CAN control what you do yourself. Your to-do list can quite easily be on a paper notebook, as can your journal. Another thread here talks about self-hosting your location history -- why TF would you even want that? You can leave your phone at home when you go places where you don't need it. You can talk to people instead of texting them. All these things might be inconvenient, and amusing for some of your friends. But you'll survive it.
Maybe you can't shut off the flow of data about you, but you can at least refrain from adding to it.
The entire point of such self-hosting is to achieve a similar level of convenience provided by the megacorps' products without them being able to profit off of your usage of them. People who will consider 'not tracking location' and 'only talking to people face to face' aren't the ones considering self-hosting their location data (unless their only reason for doing so was the megacorps' profit model).
I predict an increase in the number of golfers and boat enthusiasts in my lifetime.
Boat enthusiast here, I'm afraid even that'll be a struggle! I'm planning to move onto a sailing yacht fairly soon and carry on my job as a backend web developer, mobile internet is good enough to make this viable and things like Starlink will make it even easier in the coming years.
I suppose you can still turn off the telescreen if you want to though, if you sail out of range of mobile towers and turn everything off you can hide from the world pretty effectively.
Makes sense why so many business and political deals are made on the golf course when you start thinking about the meta aspects of having no paper trail or being vulnerable to eavesdropping secretarial eyes & ears or some all-listening tech-panoptican.
You mean people who think they're safe because they don't realize they're in the earshot of another player's/random jogger's smartphone?
(I'm totally thinking of a scene from Person of Interest, 4x12, when a character hides in a park and makes a call over satellite phone, to talk out of earshot of a malicious AI surveilling everyone, only to be spotted by it through a smartphone of a passing cyclist. Can't find any video clip of to link here, though.)
Maybe we need straw buyers for lumber?
I've done some cursory asking around and found nothing. I would think the real problem is that every car manufacturer and every model year is different.
Follow the insurers.
2. Disable all Google apps' access to your location.
3. Disable Android's "high accuracy location" if possible in your Android version. This little snitch collects terrifyingly precise "anonymized" location information fused with device sensors.
Do not accept surveillance in the name of convenience. And don't let Google normalize even more intrusion into our lives. Don't use their services.
GrapheneOS is more security-focused, CalyxOS is more privacy-focused, and they're both a step in the right direction.
Fuck that scummy pattern really.
I also remember having a habit of keeping mobile data off during the 3G days. Guess it's not feasible anymore.
The solution here is for governments to ban this kind of bulk data requests without warrant and not for you to fight a losing battle against your own police force.
Well, it won't stop the police. But the accuracy is lower, increasing the number of people that match the geofence. That changes the cost-benefit of asking for such a warrant.
That and a faraday bag.
The biggest problem I've found lately with cell data off is that group texting breaks in weird ways. Most group texting is apparently MMS based, which is "Here's a text telling the phone to go download something from somewhere." If you've got data off, those end up queued weirdly, and can make group messages appear radically out of order when you get a data connection again.
Group texting is hard when you get into the weeds of it.
Im typically a minimal regulation kind of guy but these orgs have consistently demonstrated that without some sort of effective privacy regulation, modern tech companies simply do not have enough incentive to self-regulate with respect to data collection. Laymen are too ignorant to demand better from the modern data cartel.
This is typically my go to for any discussion regarding privacy apathy. Citing things like the NSA's "Total Information Awareness" and "Nobody But Us" attitudes also does well to tie into this.
Anyone who tries to do effective privacy regulation at the political level will be condemned as enabling crime, by the very same people that say they're very angry about their liberties being eroded and willing to shoot people over it.
The entire millenium-old body of law surrounding what rights you have when dealing with the police exists in order to protect the innocent, not the guilty.
Things like warrants don't exist to make it impossible for the police to do their work. They exist to make it so that they spend less time harassing people who have done nothing wrong. It's difficult to frame the police scooping up data that a third party has on you as harassment.
 But not no.
What if I made something that you like to do illegal? Now you are a criminal concealing their crimes. Now your tech works against you and you must comply.
I absolutely agree with erring on the side of letting criminals get away with more if it means preserving privacy. No alibi safety net is worth trading away your privacy.
Pointless red herring. For any law, we can find someone that doesn't like it. Building an argument about police powers from that is building on quicksand.
Unless you mean to do away with law, and the concept of crime in general.
I noticed you didn't address my point around erring on the side of not infringing on privacy however. Does this mean that you agree?
That's not a valid argument. You don't get to pick and choose law. You either get the whole package, or nothing.
Police powers are completely orthogonal to this question.
The reason they are restricted by law is not so that law is more difficult to enforce. The barristers that have drafted all this precedent over the centuries did not do so with the goal of 'Man, wouldn't it be great if we made a copper's job difficult!"
The reason police powers are restricted by law is, as said earlier, to reduce the impact on how much police work should harass the innocent. The law doesn't recognize that there are parts of it that are arbitrary and optional. It either applies in its entirely, or doesn't.
As long as you focus on the harm to the criminal, you're framing your argument in an odd way. You're much better off building your argument in a way that focuses on harm to the innocent.
> I noticed you didn't address my point around erring on the side of not infringing on privacy however. Does this mean that you agree?
I didn't address it, because your argument lacks qualification, which makes it possible to take it to absurd conclusions.
If you believe privacy is an absolute good that cannot be infringed in any situation, then you get absurdity, like the police being unable to search an apartment that the neighbors have reported hearing gunshots from. (Because, heaven forbid, the occupants thereof may not be actually guilty of any crimes.)
If you don't believe that, then you're going to have to quantify your argument, with a basis for when you believe it is appropriate for the police to infringe on someone's privacy. You're then going to have to explain how its consistent with actual pre-digital legal precedent. You're then going to have to explain how your scaffolding leads to an outcome inconsistent with how policing is currently done in the digital world.
You've got a lot more work to do to make a coherent argument then simply saying "I believe privacy trumps solving crime," before I can respond to it.
No. I'm arguing that because laws can be arbitrary, we should err on the side of protecting criminals when difficult decisions around privacy are at play. I don't know why you insist on strawmanning absurd forms of what I am saying.
I'm probably 'strawmanning' it because your argument is utterly incomprehensible, given that it is entirely inconsistent with the purpose of the law.
The purpose of the law is not to protect the guilty from the legal consequences of things that they have done. You seem to think that it should be. This is utterly baffling. If you don't want people held accountable for crime, then strike those crimes from the criminal codex.
The number of guilty people that get off by it would be irrelevant compared to the number of innocents that become stigmatized by their peers.
Put it this way, if you had cameras watching you every moment of your life, you could have the perfect alibi for anything. But you would never be able to do anything considered illegal again, for whatever definition of "illegal."
Ugh. People still don't grok the privacy situation wrt law enforcement. Here's me trying yet again trying to convey my understanding.
Our prior legal notions are moot when the "dragnet" is the entire planet, encompassing all people for all space and time.
Folk understanding of legal notions like probable cause, reasonable doubt, burden of proof, innocent until proven guilty, alibis, etc. no longer apply.
Identifying suspects and checking their alibis is obsolete. Law enforcement will use big data to rule out non-suspects. Then whoever is left must be the perp.
In the case of Zachary McCoy in this article, LE found a match. What I'm saying is in the near future, LE will rule out non-matches. So if LE can't establish an alibi for you, globally, you're a potential suspect.
Reverse strategy, same end result. But bigger scope.
In the mid-aughts, law enforcement was already using warehoused demographic data to solve cold cases. Imagine how much better they can do their job today. (And yet so many crimes go unsolved. All the downside of forfeiting our privacy, none of the benefits. Infuriating.)
ACLU's objection to Apple's CSAM effort hit HN's front page last week. Perfect example of preparing to fight the last war.
The ACLU, like most everyone else, still hasn't internalized what's happening/happened.
Forgive me, I still can't articulate my notions about privacy very well. Despite 20+ years of effort. Even when I try talk to other privacy advocates. When I try to simply example the technical capabilities of various players, and what that might mean, I'm dismissed as "paranoid, sweaty kook". (Actual quote from a local newspaper.)
When I write that I don't know what privacy even means any more, I'm dead serious. My only kindred spirit, matching my pessimism, has been Shoshana Zuboff (author of Surveillance Capitalism).
I remain open the possibility that I am in fact insane.
The part you have trouble articulating I think revolves around 3rd Party Doctrine, and the complete seeming death of professional discretion. When I was growing up, you wanted to keep records? Paper, or get out. So people only tracked the important things. Queries happened at the speed of a human being able to synthesize information, etc. Further, if you wanted to cross-reference different sources, you were doing footwork, which meant you were doing that one thing at a time.
Nowadays, we've massively parallelized the data collection, classification, cleaning, organizing, and cross-referencing to the degree that about the only thing standing in your way is learning the names of providers with the juiciest datasets.
The Internet did it's original job maybe a bit too well. Information is propagated without any sense of discretion in the name of financial viability.
Walking things back... Well... The only option is to destroy the data itself. By it's very existence, by collecting it, it destroys any semblance of privacy.
Cellular technology in particular is a glaring example of a set of data that never should have been made queryable, but here we are.
them: I'd like you to carry this tracking device with you everywhere you go. It tracks your location down to a few meters. It tracks who you talk to and records your conversations. It tracks what you spend your money on. It sends us all this information, we save it, and provide it to the government when they ask. How about that?
us: That's Orwellian. It's a complete violation of privacy and likely illegal. I would never consent to that.
them: You can take selfies with it and play Cow Clicker on it.
us: I'll give you $500 for it.
them: There's a more expensive version where when people message you you can see if they are using the cheap version or the expensive version.
us: I'll give you $1000 for the expensive version.
them: The "pro" version takes better selfies.
us: I'll give you $1500 for the "pro" version.
them: You can only store 75,000 selfies on the "pro" version but you can upgrade to storage for 300,000 selfies.
us: I'll give you $2000 for the upgraded version.
them, 6 months later: There's a new tracking device out, it's the same as the one you have but it comes in Sierra Blue.
us: I'll give you another $2000.
them: But wait! There's more!
Serious question - I switched from google to iPhone exactly for the tracking reasons, but I would think that apple does have similar data - if you have weather widget it must ping something, same thing with Maps and that’s not even accounting if you allow gps to set your time zone or collect traffic data.
Are the cops not searching apple data? Is it just not public enough? Or is the data pretty poor even if they wanted to search but can’t.
Google assistant couldn’t even make a call with the allo app, there were many reasons I switched. Actually I was always and iPhone user and tried pixel 2 for a few month and that was it.