The Power of Place

When it comes to Mudita Pure, a very common question posted on the forum, as well as on our social media, involves GPS. The questions and comments often reflect how much we’ve come to depend on digitized mapping solutions to guide us, as we make our way around town. Some forum members and social media users have even remarked that GPS navigation is a must in any phone they buy and not having it is a dealbreaker when it comes to their decision to make the purchase.

We discuss the implications of constantly sharing your location data with tech companies in our latest blog post: The Lure of Geolocation.

When it comes to GPS technology and privacy, let us know where you stand.

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“Mudita prides itself on its commitment to privacy as well as transparency and selling data has never been and never will be part of its business model”

Basically the two reasons the Mudita Pure got my attention.

Tech companies, by default, gather an insane amount of data, even the less greedy among them (I’m looking at you Big Sur[veillance]). I checked out of curiosity someone’s android phone a couple of weeks ago and it’s even hard to believe where we’re at. The amount of data they are collecting, and the insidious their methods are is something over the top. By default you are sharing your location, your contacts, what you type, what you read, what you buy, how long you look at this or that picture, what you download, how long you stay online, everything your camera and sensors are registering, your routines and activity patters, etc… You “share” all this with your phone company, with the apps you installed, with Google (via different methods) and who knows who else. On the top of that they are not making things easy for you to opt out and turn the surveillance off: to begin with the option to toggle this kind of permissions off is never obvious and even when you find it and opt out, in many cases they warn you you are gonna lose important features or make your app or your phone almost useless. In some instances even when you deliberately and after some effort and some tweaking turn off this options or get rid of this programs… they keep tracking you anyway. Insane.

Lately more and more people are realizing the huge problem this is and moving to more respecting software and hardware alternatives.

The Mudita team is doing the right thing, and hopefully others will follow example.

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Long time ago the Kindle 2 (I think. The one with the keyboard) used to have free mobile internet. And there were times were I used the map on it, from the experimental browser. That being said, maybe that’s the work arround…
Have maps, but without GPS…

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Thanks for the post. I appreciate the thoughts in it. I’d just like to point out, however, that not everyone has the luxury to live without geolocation data or without these services. If we are to truly promote these ideas, there are other areas that are more than necessary to fix (problems of equity). I know I can live without a GPS because my work allows me to, but there are some that cannot live with certain services because it will mean the end of their careers. We have to be mindful of them and fight for them, so one day they are able to live without the privacy intrusive tech. It’s a matter of privilege tbh.

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@nirvana Thank you so much for your feedback. I think sometimes we don’t really want to acknowledge just how invasive the tracking is. Combining all the data Google Maps collects, it has over 20 petabytes of data, which is equal to approximately 21 million gigabytes, or around 20,500 terabytes. That’s an OBSCENE amount of data. I have to admit, reading your comment really cements the issue at hand: Even if we TRY to turn off any information-gathering settings, it’s still not enough. Sometimes, I feel like the convenience might not be worth it. That’s why I admire Mudita for taking a stand against data collection and making a commitment to user privacy. There will be a follow-up article in a couple weeks where we discuss the privacy and security of MuditaOS & the Desktop App, Mudita Center. Stay tuned. It will be a GREAT read.

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@Marcin_Hakemer-Ferna This is definitely an idea worth exploring. I really like the idea of being able to upload off-line maps for specific use (like traveling) and then having the freedom to remove that particular map when I am done. However, I AM A HUGE FAN of paper maps. I buy one in every city I travel to, kind of like a souvenir.

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@Jose_Briones I do agree with you. The meaning of freedom is the possibility of choice. I am very fortunate that I am able to have the freedom to function with two phones. I use a smartphone for work (when needed). However, in my private time, when I go to the store, walk the dog, run general errands or participate in social activities, etc I take my old school feature phone. Speaking of equity, I believe sustainability and equity go hand in hand. In my blog post on organic cotton, I wrote, " Every time you make a purchase, you have the power to use your money to make a statement. You can either choose to maintain the status quo or direct the world toward a better future. The world gotten so used to cheap, mass-produced products, which not only harm the people taking part in the production, but also damage our environment, that sometimes we don’t realize what the true cost of a product really is. Here at Mudita, we are passionate not only about living in harmony with nature and its creatures, but also living in harmony with our society, by contributing to fair trade practices at every step of our existence.

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Using location data during the pandemic.
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2056305120948257
This was from 6 months ago. The governments are using location data from the service providers to analyze travel patterns and calculate risks and scenarios. You wonder what will come out of all this after the pandemic and what it means to individual privacy. We have to wait and see.

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@John_Andersson Thank you for the link. It’s interesting, but definitely NOT surprising. In Poland, the government has a Covid-19 app. They require people who are on mandated quarantine to download it. This app tracks your location by asking you to do certain tasks, like take a selfie & send it in, in order to verify that you are at the location you have indicated to the authorities. If you ignore the tasks, the police shows up. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=pl.nask.droid.kwarantannadomowa

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Hmm. That sounds awful to me. What if you don’t have a smartphone? Do you have to get one?

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@John_Andersson If you refuse to download the app (which you have a right to) then the police just randomly come by to check on you. They will ring the doorbell or your phone & they will ask you to come to the window and show yourself. It’s pretty serious.

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The New York Times posted an article (“U.S. Agency Uses Smartphone Location Data Without Warrants, Memo Says”) on 23 January 2021 that began in this way:

WASHINGTON – A military arm of the intelligence community buys commercially available databases containing location data from smartphone apps [emphasis added] and searches it for Americans’ past movements without a warrant, according to an unclassified memo obtained by The New York Times.

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Do I need to be a paying subscriber to read this article ?

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@kirkmahoneyphd Thanks for this. I’m definitely going to read it. It’s a bit disturbing, isn’t it? But then again, it’s not a surprise. Google is a goldmine for police. They can use it to find suspects and witnesses near crime scenes. Also, LE agencies have been using publicly available DNA databases (such as 23&me, Ancestry, GedMatch) to identify potential suspects of crimes, by tracing their genealogy. I think technological innovation might be a Pandora’s box.

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@John_Andersson I was able to get in without a paywall. I believe the NYT allows for a few free articles per month. Let me know if it works for you. I can always send you a PDF :slight_smile:

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Thanks, I got in :slightly_smiling_face:

Very interesting article, even more so if you follow the links to other reports.
What I would like to know is what kind of deal google has with companies that uses the google services in-app, regarding the searched data. What level of privacy on the data is required to prevent google from legally using it in the ad business for instance?
I give an example: We looked at a few houses up for sale on the countryside and used the websites maps to view the surroundings and available public transportations. Did spend 15 min, at the most. Same evening on Instagram, ad on top: “Are you thinking about moving to the countryside but hesitates?””

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@John_Andersson What happened to you is called “re-marketing” or “re-targeting.” It’s pretty standard on Google Ads. It’s a form of technology which enables a Google Ads customer (not you- but the the company which pays Google) to follow potential customers as they move across the internet. When a potential customer (YOU) visits a particular site which uses Google Ads, a small snippet of code (remarketing code) on that website adds YOU to a remarketing list. Then, when YOU visit another website that uses the Google Ad network, YOU are served the targeted ad. Pretty clever & sneaky at the same time, if you ask me.

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Thanks for the explanation. Didn’t make me feel better about it
though.
In some cases, ignorance truly is bliss.
Makes you wonder where it will end and what the solution is, if there’s any?

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@John_Andersson In my personal opinion, technological innovation might be a Pandora’s Box. However, I don’t think we’ve reached a point of no return, just yet. I believe the privacy revolt is coming. I can feel it :slight_smile: and Mudita is leading the way :slight_smile:

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Well, I have to relearn how to deal with a mobile device that has no GPS. I will relearn to look in advance on OpenStreetMap and when a train goes. And maybe I will buy a waterproof paper map of my home city and have it arround when I suspect I could be lost.

Besides that, during the pandemic I did not felt the need to use any kind of mobile navigation. I can start fresh when this situation is finally over.

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