Enter Malte Spitz, a German Green Party politician and privacy advocate with a cell phone.
Spitz knows, as most cell phone users do, that our GPS is on all the time and that his cell phone carrier basically knew where we was 24 hours a day.
From German Newspaper, Zeit Online:
This profile reveals when Spitz walked down the street, when he took a train, when he was in an airplane. It shows where he was in the cities he visited. It shows when he worked and when he slept, when he could be reached by phone and when was unavailable. It shows when he preferred to talk on his phone and when he preferred to send a text message. It shows which beer gardens he liked to visit in his free time. All in all, it reveals an entire life.”
So Spitz used German privacy law to make all of his information available to him from his carrier Deutsche Telekom and then he made it public.
Turns out DT had recorded and saved his lat/long coordinates more than 35,000 times in six months! But that’s not the scary part – the information that Spitz got was based on how often he checked his email. (So by that rationale, I think we should all turn our phones to “push” mode so that our email is downloaded to our phones in a lump, when we want to see our email. As a bonus, you’ll enjoy longer battery life and maybe a little less Big Brother interaction.)
Zeit Online made an interactive map here, showing where Spitz went and what he did for between Aug 31, 2009 and Feb. 28, 2010. Spitz says that the results are accurate and that his driving purpose behind putting his personal life online is to educate the public that this is what’s at stake in the world of cell phone privacy. The only embarrassing thing he copped to was taking flights instead of more fuel efficient trains as a Green Party politician.
What does that mean for Americans like me? We don’t know. The New York Times covered the story in this past Saturday’s paper but “major American cellphone providers declined to explain what exactly they collect and what they use it for.” We know that the FBI and the DEA have used cell records to find and identify suspects.