Your phone’s location data costs $ 12 billion

Wherever you go, you can make money.

But for someone else.

Some companies that deviate from the spotlight pay the highest dollar for privileged access to the location history stored on your mobile phone, according to initial report from The next network.

And it’s a growing industry worth approximately $ 12 billion, including aggregators, collectors, markets and location intelligence firms.

Companies that profit from location data fly under legal radars

A location company called Near itself is “the largest set of real-world behavior in the world,” including data from “1.6 billion people in 44 countries.” Another company, X-Mode, claims to have data representing “25% + of the US adult population per month”, while Mobilewalla boasts access to data from “40+ countries, 1.9B + devices, 50B mobile signals per day , 5+ years of data. “

TNW According to the label, Markup identifies 47 different companies that collect, sell or trade location data from mobile phones. And this list is beginning to illustrate the situation of mass surveillance: an interconnected, collaborative group of companies that offer application developer code, provide revenue to user data, and sell analyzes from “1.9 billion devices” that allow access to datasets by hundreds of millions of people. Only six of these companies have data from more than 1 billion devices, and at least four other companies say their data is “the most accurate” in the industry.

“There’s not much transparency, and there’s a really, really complex shadowy network of interactions between these companies that’s hard to unravel,” said cyberpolitics associate Justin Sherman of Duke Tech Policy’s lab. TNW report. “They work based on the fact that the general public and the people of Washington and other regulatory centers don’t pay attention to what they do.” And sometimes the industry is extremely invasive. A 2020 report Motherboard showed how X-Mode, which collects location data through apps, collects data specifically from Muslim prayer apps and then sells them to military contractors. The same year, on Wall Street Journal reported how Venntel, which provides location data, sells location data to federal agencies for immigration enforcement purposes.

The list goes on.

Even basic and benign apps can share your location data

Many companies say privacy is paramount, stressing that they take great care never to sell information that could reveal a person’s identity. But this can be misleading, as it was recently anonymous location data surveys have shown. The difficult fact of modern life is that there is no clear way to understand the ways in which your movements are tracked, traded and monetized. Companies do not usually report which applications provide collected data, nor what type of data they collect, where they go, or when. Building an image of the new information ecosystem, TNW Markup reviewed the marketing language of 47 companies and tracked how data from your phone enters and moves through the information ecosystem.

The personal phone pipeline to monetized data starts in our hands when you receive a notification asking for your permission to access location data. It’s not entirely suspicious since weather, wind or map applications they can’t really perform their function without knowing where you are. But some of these apps sell and share this location data to companies that analyze it and use it for profit. Advan Research does that. But others, such as Adsquare, buy or trade to own data from different applications to combine it with other sources. For many apps that want a location, users can easily opt out and avoid the risk. But even applications that feel the most essential and benign may be the source of those companies that do not share their sources to maintain a competitive advantage. Time will tell how our location data will be used in the coming years and whether the new laws can ban this increasingly high-tech market, which is everywhere nowhere and nowhere.

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