Remember when Strava, the fitness tracking app, gave away the location of secret U.S. army bases in Afghanistan and Syria? We wrote about it back in February. It was an embarrassing and dangerous leak of sensitive customer data. It also highlighted the intrusion and potential abuse of location-based cell phone data.
Well, good news for cell phone users in the United States – they got a couple of small wins:
- Very shortly after our blog on the subject, the Supreme Court took steps to restrict the use of such data. In the past, police could access cell phone records on demand, now they will be required to have a warrant. The intent here is to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of citizens.
- After the surge in bad press highlighting the data abuse issues to the public at large, the four major cellphone carriers in the U.S. announced some restrictions to the sale of their customers’ locations. Basically, they have agreed to stop the practice of selling location data to third-party data brokers and data aggregators.
While these protections are certainly welcomed, it will take time for the industry to change their ways. Location leaks seemingly continue unabated as exemplified by Polar, a popular fitness monitor company. They had their own data leak, showing once again that security is difficult. You would think they would have learned from the Strava leak.
From an investment perspective, protecting location-based cell phone data could reduce the revenue opportunities for cell phone operators but, from a privacy perspective, it is reassuring
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As international equity investors, the team at R Squared Capital Management (former team at Julius Baer / Artio Global) utilizes fundamental and macro analysis in our quest to correctly identify structural tailwinds and headwinds at the geographic, sector and company levels.
FROM THE DESK OF HARRY POLISHOOK
Harry Polishook is a Partner and Analyst at R Squared Capital Management.
Prior to joining R Squared, Harry was a Portfolio Manager and Analyst with the International Equities team at Artio Global Management. In 2000, he joined the firm, which was part of the Julius Baer Group, after serving six years as a Securitization Programmer at Deloitte and Touche.
Harry received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Applied Math from the State University of New York at Albany.
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