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[liberationtech] Cell phone tracking

Rich Kulawiec rsk at gsp.org
Mon Jun 3 06:16:54 PDT 2013


On Sun, Jun 02, 2013 at 10:16:20PM -0400, Nathan of Guardian wrote:
> In summary, if the focused threat you need to address is location
> tracking by carriers/operators, and you live in an area with a decent
> saturation of "open" wifi hotspots, I feel there is something you can do
> about it. Now your adversaries have to work a bit harder (tracking IPs
> to hotspots, physical surveillance, etc) to build a geo map of your
> comings and goings.

In re this topic, please see this paper:

	Unique in the Crowd: The privacy bounds of human mobility
	http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130325/srep01376/full/srep01376.html

Abstract:

	We study fifteen months of human mobility data for one and a half
	million individuals and find that human mobility traces are highly
	unique. In fact, in a dataset where the location of an individual
	is specified hourly, and with a spatial resolution equal to that
	given by the carrier's antennas, four spatio-temporal points are
	enough to uniquely identify 95% of the individuals. We coarsen
	the data spatially and temporally to find a formula for the
	uniqueness of human mobility traces given their resolution and
	the available outside information. This formula shows that the
	uniqueness of mobility traces decays approximately as the 1/10
	power of their resolution. Hence, even coarse datasets provide
	little anonymity. These findings represent fundamental constraints
	to an individual's privacy and have important implications for
	the design of frameworks and institutions dedicated to protect
	the privacy of individuals.

And remember Schneier's maxim: attacks always get better.  So the work
which these researchers have done (and it appears to me to be fine work)
will be extended, refined, improved.

---rsk



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