Open question: How much location information are you willing to share?

Location adds a new twist to privacy debates.

A recent back-channel conversation here at O’Reilly focused on the overlap between location, data, and privacy. We have these sorts of chats from time to time — and they’re often lively — but what struck me about this one was the dual nature of the topics at hand: all offer immense opportunity, all also offer healthy doses of bewilderment.

That duality translated into divergent viewpoints. It was clear from the call that some people accept the shifts away from privacy because they’re exchanging data for useful goods and services. Other folks are more concerned. “I don’t care to help them lower the bar on who gets my information,” one caller said in reference to data-sharing services.

Location added a twist to the discussion. Those of us comfortable forking over private information, like credit card numbers and financial statements, might not think much of sharing location data. But a person who’s been tracked by a stalker or a restrictive government probably has vastly different perspectives on location sharing — and those perspectives deserve careful consideration.

The one thing everyone seemed to agree on during the call is that these topics are open-ended and multi-layered. That got me thinking: If we’re all struggling with this internally, why not make the conversation public and see what other people have to say?

This post is the result. I’d like to learn how Radar readers are dealing with these tricky topics.

Here’s a few starter questions to kick things off:

  • How much location data are you willing to share?
  • What do you expect in exchange for that data?
  • How much control do you need over your location data to be comfortable sharing it?
  • If you’re uncomfortable with the kind of location data sharing that happens with Foursquare or Facebook Places, how do you feel about the hidden location data collection that happens when you buy something with a credit card, when you make a mobile phone call, or when you watch the little arrow on Google Maps that shows where you are on your route? Why?
  • Do you know how credit card companies make use of your location data?

Please weigh in through the comments. (Note: You’re welcome to address any and all adjacent topics that might pop up. I’d like to see where this goes.)

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