In digital marketing circles, the operative phrase is "location is the new cookie." Just think for a minute how many apps on your smartphone ask for your location in addition to whatever mapping service you use -- not just Foursquare and Uber, but virtually every social networking app. Once you opt in, that app is free to collect location data and, depending on the terms of service, potentially provide it to marketers or other third parties.
The dark side of this is all too obvious, beginning with the NSA backdoors that might provide access to such information. (If you're in a paranoid mood, check out the cool new ACLU video about how law enforcement might use location data; it's about cell location, but same idea.) Government snooping aside, how about insurance companies? It's easy enough to determine if you're in a car that's breaking the speed limit -- and boom, your rates go up. And your health-monitoring watch? I'm not sure I want Cigna to know my heart rate when I'm climbing a hill on my bike.
On the other hand, the flood of telemetry we can expect from wearables, smart appliances, and all kinds of clever gizmos not yet invented is going to make technology a magnitude more useful. The Internet of things is the next wave. Coupled with big data processing, it will inevitably make any discussion of privacy -- which, after all, former Sun CEO Scott McNealy declared dead in 1999 -- seem quaint.
McNealy, by the way, was right: He meant that credit card companies and old-school credit agencies like Equifax or Experian already have a huge amount of information about you. I'm just not quite ready to let go of every last detail about my personal life, including a complete history of where I go. Are you?
This article, "The mobile spy in your pocket," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.