New Dimensions in Privacy: Spatial Privacy in the Geographic Information Age

Essay by pinoUniversity, Bachelor's March 2005

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New Dimensions in Privacy:

Spatial Privacy in the Geographic Information Age


The conceptualization of privacy as a right in the United States has most decidedly been an evolutionary work in process throughout much of the 20th century. There is some indication, however, that it has been more of a revolutionary process than an orderly evolution. According to Berry and Linoff, (1997), "Now is the era of another industry revolution driven by data running through computers, networks and databases." The literature, including the legal press, academic journals, and the popular press argue that advances in spatial technology have become a major threat to individual privacy. However, little has been offered in the way of empirical evidence to support these arguments.

It has also been suggested that the addition of spatiality or location to the complex of information about individuals is creating an exponential growth in the invasive potential of these new technologies.

The mandate by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) in 1996 that required cell phone manufactures to equip their units with location technology has given momentum to the industry to develop ways to market this technology. New marketing efforts and further development in functionality have been in part an effort to recover costs and in part to exploit new avenues for continued growth. Even more remarkable, than this slow but consistent restructuring of a belief system surrounding issues of personal privacy, with its social and moral implications, ethical concerns and legal conundrums, is the revolutionary impact on privacy that advances in spatial technology and the commodification of personal spatial information have affected.

The proliferation of geo-spatial (or spatially-aware) technology is leading to a severe uneasiness and a decided imbalance between the consumers of technology and consumers of information that is being generated with this new technology. Even though much...