AT&T is tracking the who, what and where through cellphones

Jun 12, 2012 13:01:55Posted by John Skorick, MyAKA Founder & CEO

AT&T is tracking the who, what and where through cellphones

Many are unaware of what is being tracked by their cellphone carrier. According to The Star-Ledger, the AT&T Labs in Florham Park, New Jersey, study everything from where a person is to how they got there to how long they are stuck at a red light - and it's all gleaned from cellphones.

This information is very valuable for policy makers, urban planners and traffic engineers, as this "big data" collection makes it easy for these professionals to be efficient. AT&T is not the only cellphone carrier gathering such information, as Verizon is developing a similar plan and Google tracks people to give traffic reports, according to the news source.

However, many people are concerned this method of tracking invades a person's privacy, especially since many are unaware that it's happening.

"'Big data' is the mantra right now. Everyone wants to go there, and everyone has these stories about how it might benefit us," Lee Tien, who works for a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization specializing in free speech, privacy and consumer rights, told the news source. "One of the things you learn in kindergarten is that if you want to play with somebody else’s toys, you ask them. What is distressing, and I think sad, about the big data appetite is so often it is essentially saying, 'Hey, we don't have to ask.'"

As privacy advocate groups and the government battle with various cellphone privacy issues, people can take some things into their own hands for the time being. According to the Pekin Daily Times, people can protect themselves from cellphone scams by setting up a password on their device. In addition, people may want to set up an additional phone number, which can separate calls from a person's friends and family, and unknown numbers or work-related calls.