I was listening to the Tech News Today podcast and at the 25 minute mark of episode 14 they said something about RIM that almost made me fall over. Before I get into the story let me set the back drop.
Back in June 2009 RIM acquired a company called Dash Navigation. Dash had one great feature… The ability to update traffic patterns based on information aggregated from all Dash Navigation devices. As you were driving the Dash navigation unit would report back your traffic speed and GPS location allowing other Dash users to get real-time traffic information based on info from all other Dash users.
RIM has decided how they are going to leverage this technology. Becky Worley explained that the technology from Dash Navigation will be built into BlackBerry devices, allowing them to report back GPS data. By default all users will be opted into reporting the anonymized traffic/GPS data, I suspect there will be a BES setting for this, but should this be opt-out? I get the data is supposed to be anonymous, but, recall that Netflix had to cancel their contest when some anonymous data was linked back to individual people by the University of Texas.
I get the use of this in a dedicated navigation device but a Blackberry sending GPS data back will frequently be sending data back that is not traffic data. I would want to believe if the device is not on a known road the data won’t be sent back. I searched for some information on how this would function but failed to find any information. I cannot imagine RIM has not carefully implemented this to protect users privacy and security.
Coming from Apple, Microsoft, or Google this type of activity is just common place, but BlackBerry is the most secure platform so this seems strange. This is almost like having Google Latitude installed and reporting back to RIM by default. With all the recent concerns over Facebook privacy is this a miss step for RIM. Was Tech News Today accurate in what they reported. Does anyone care? RIM = Security, but, does that have a relationship to your privacy?