Awareness of the privacy issues involved in using various devices and software has grown dramatically in recent years - there can be few readers who do not know about the telemetry and privacy concerns surround Windows 10, for instance.
But a new campaign by privacy-focused advocacy group Krowdthink aims to raise aware of the privacy implication of owning a mobile phone in the UK.
The 'Opt me out of Location' campaign aims to highlight the fact that nearly every single mobile phone owner in the UK (93 per cent) has unwittingly signed up for a contract that permits their location to be tracked. More than this, the data collected allows providers to build up highly detailed customer profiles which Krowdthink warns leaves millions of users just one serious data breach away from having private data exposed to and abused by criminals.
Krowdthink says that "the big location data breach has yet to occur", but there is great concern around the fact that most people are simply unaware that their location is being almost constantly - and very precisely - monitored. All the more worrying is the selling on of this data, opening up even more opportunities for data to be hacked, leaked, or breached. The group says that education is important, saying "we need to exercise our rights to opt out and ideally seek an explicit opt-in from those tracking us".
Geoff Revill, the founder of Krowdthink, cautions: "The fact of the matter is your mobile and Wi-Fi service providers know - without you knowing - where you are, how you got there and can figure out where you are going."
It's not just mobile phone providers that are cause for concern; Krowdthink says that public Wi-Fi service providers are also concerning sources of location data. Pete Woodward from security company Securious says: "location tracking data would be gold dust for the criminal fraternity and would be very saleable on the black market".
Research by Krowdthink says that while most mobile users are suspicious of apps that make use of GPS, few people think about the fact that their location is highly trackable when they connect to cell towers. By gathering data about location and movement, it is possible to build up detailed user profiles that could be valuable to criminals. Burglars, for instance, would be able to quickly determine when particular houses were usually empty, but there is also scope for data that's gathered to be used for blackmail: "… identifying any cases of infidelity - including when, where and how long for. [Location data also] identifies your sex, probable sexual orientation, your religion and many other personal preference".
Similar research has been carried out by the Open Rights Group, with the findings suggesting that consumers are simply not being given enough information to make properly informed decisions about how their data is used.
You can find out more about the Opt Me Out Of Location at the campaign website, where you'll also find out how to manually opt out of location tracking with a number of mobile providers.