What Is It About Location?


Appeared In: Berkeley Technology Law Journal

Publication Date: July 2020

This article reports on a set of empirical studies that reveal how people think about location data, how these conceptions relate to expectations of privacy, and consequently, what this might mean for law, regulation, and technological design. Despite the great debates, published commentary, court action, regulatory activity, and scholarly literature, not enough is known about how people understand location data, and what specifically about it affects people’s judgments about others’ access to their whereabouts. Further, despite efforts to stem location tracking, it remains rampant. Stern rules aimed at curtailing location tracking are a poor match for the ingenuity of seekers of this information who, among other tactics, exploit enormous ambiguity in how location is interpreted and operationalized to make end runs around these rules.

Martin, K and Helen Nissenbaum. 2020. What is it about location? Berkeley Technology Law Journal, 35(1): 253-309. DOI: 10.15779/Z382F7JR6F

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