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ISACA: Users will soon not be able to opt out of location data sharing

The business value is too great to ignore

The value of location-based data to businesses is so great that soon users will not be able to opt out, an IT security expert has warned.

Businesses can use location-based data to increase their revenue and reduce their costs, and as a result will make it increasingly harder for users to keep their data private, said Richard Hollis, who serves on the ISACA Government and Regulatory Advocacy Subcommittee (GRA).

"I believe we are on the cusp of losing the opportunity to opt in and opt out [of location-based data services]," Hollis told the ICT Knowledge Transfer Network conference 'A Fine Balance 2011: Location and Cyber Privacy in the Digital Age' in London today.

Examples of how companies are using geo-location data to increase revenue and reduce costs include O2 and Virgin Media.

O2 is hoping to increase its revenue through direct contextually-relevant marketing, while Virgin Media manages its engineers more efficiently using a mobile workforce management system from TOA Technologies that gives it greater visibility of its workers, while offering customers more accurate customer appointment windows.

"'Where are you?' is the question that businesses are asking today," Hollis said.

To illustrate how businesses value location-based data, Hollis revealed how he had gone to five banks to ask for a bank card without an RFID chip in it - only to find that none of the five could offer it.

"Geo-location data equals cash. It is even more valuable than credit card information," he said.

Hollis warned that there was no one in the business world who is willing to take responsibility for the protection of private location data.

He also believes that unless it becomes a personal issue for users, to the extent that they are upset about it, there will not be the legislation in place to protect them.

"The industry as a whole is saying 'users beware'. Right now it is all on the user," he said.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) revealed today that it is using the growing concerns over location-based data to extend its auditing power to the private sector.

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