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Over Half of Americans Use Location-based Apps Despite Privacy Concerns

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Fifty eight percent of consumers who have a smart device use location based applications, despite concerns about safety and use of their personal information for marketing purposes, according to a survey from nonprofit global information security association ISACA.

A telephone poll of 1,000 Americans shows that many people are concerned about geolocation, which uses data from a computer or mobile device to identify a physical location:

  • Top concerns include third-party use of personal information for marketing purposes (24%) and strangers knowing too much about people's activities (24%)
  • Personal safety is the next biggest concern (21%)
  • 43% of people do not read the agreements on apps before downloading them, and of those who do read the agreements, 25% believe these agreements are not clear about how location information is being used

"Location-based apps can be tremendously convenient, but also risky. People should educate themselves to understand how their data is being used or know how to disable this feature," said Marios Damianides, CISM, CISA, CA, CPA, past international president of ISACA and partner, Advisory Services, at Ernst & Young. "Businesses that collect location-based data have a responsibility to define an ethical governance policy and communicate it transparently."

Applications with geolocation capabilities offer benefits such as precise navigation, location-based coupons or easy social check-ins. Nearly one-third (32%) of consumers in ISACA's survey use location-based apps more than they did a year ago.

Location-based activities most frequently done on a smartphone, tablet or laptop are getting directions (59%), and tagging photos on social media (44%).

The next most popular activity is disabling location-based features on select apps and services (38%). According to the ISACA white paper "Geolocation: Risk, Issues and Strategies," malicious use of geolocation data can put individuals and enterprises at risk when information like gender, race, occupation and finances is combined with geolocation tags.

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Tags: lbs  location based services  USA