I consider myself a fairly understanding individual, but when I read “Chamber analysis of cellphone data gets $50,000 from Grand Forks,” I was perplexed.
Here we have an article with quotes from our leaders of various civic areas, stating that it is good that Grand Forks is going to utilize location data from cellular phones to improve economic factors for local businesses. This sounds like a great idea!
Oh, wait: Toward the bottom of the article, Mr. Wilfahrt from the Chamber, states that we need to do this now, because due to privacy concerns this type of activity may be blocked at the level of Congress in the next few years.
Perhaps I am missing something. The article explains the level of location data used, and information from these civic leaders presented in the article seems to read as a persuasive paper would in high school English class. Yet this contradiction at the end of the article makes me wonder if the city of Grand Forks should be, to use a quote from Mr. Wilfahrt, “on top of things” instead in the realm of privacy concerns of its residents, or if buying big data that has questionable privacy practices is something Grand Forks really wants to toss $50,000 into.
This might need a second look from all of us, and at minimum an explanation of the concerning statements about our privacy made by the same people that will be purchasing this information in our city’s name. If something is wrong or against what the typical resident would hold private or against their rights, it doesn’t matter if Congress hasn’t enacted legislation yet to block it … the activity still should not happen without close scrutiny.