A new study has shown that apps tracking user location data can also infer additional personal information, including personality traits, habits, demographics, and interests.
Researchers Mirco Musolesi (University of Bologna, Italy) and Benjamin Baron (University College London, UK) attempted to determine how much personal information is collected via location tracking. They developed an application for that purpose called TrackAdvisor, which was installed on devices belonging to 69 users. The app ran for at least two weeks on each device, tracking more than 200,000 locations. The app identified approximately 2,500 places and collected 5,000 pieces of personal information related to demographics and personality. TrackAdvisor was able to infer data about the volunteers’ health, socio-economic situations, ethnicity, and religion by simply looking at the location information it collected. That’s the kind of data that users would deem as sensitive and private.
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