Using radio-frequency pattern matching to nab terrorists
What is in this article?
Privacy concerns must be balanced with the need to save lives
With the ability to locate and monitor criminals and terrorists comes potential abuse of the privacy of ordinary citizens. To truly understand the potential threat to one's privacy, one must understand how and why location information is tracked or recorded, where the information is stored, and what the actual danger is to mobile-user privacy and security. Location identification is not a "Big Brother" attempt to invade the privacy of mobile subscribers; it is driven by the need to defend citizens and property against the increasing terrorist threat. The tension between maintaining one's privacy while maximizing the usefulness of the Internet is not inherent to mobile location. Anytime someone conducts a Web search, posts updates on a social media site, or posts comments on a blog, that information could be monitored and used. If people want to prevent this or remain anonymous, they would need to take some extreme and impractical measures (e.g., stop using a cell phone, tablet, Internet at home or at work, and stop using social-media sites).
While most of us are unlikely to go off the grid to ensure privacy, it is important to know that location methods, such as RFPM, identify and process location information behind the network operators' firewall, with standard protocols for security and privacy. RFPM boasts a 100% security record for the subscriber mobile location information it produces.
For years mobile subscribers have entrusted the operators with other sensitive personal information. Operators look up your credit score when you apply for a phone, they know your home or work address, and they likely know your banking information if you sign up for automatic bill-payment or credit-card information. The operator knows the number of every person you call or text, and it knows when and how many times you call and text that person. They know what apps you download and how often you access them.
Yet this has resulted in very little hysteria over operators knowing this information when compared with users' reaction to location tracking. Most of us have been comfortable — or possibly unaware — that all of this information is collected and stored by the operator, where it is safeguarded against being hacked or used for negative purposes. As long as government authorities use lawfully approved methods to collect and utilize suspect location information, they should have access to all available tools to prevent terrorist attacks and make our lives safer.
Manlio Allegra is president, CEO, and co-founder of Polaris Wireless.