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Your Phone Company Is Watching You

Malte Spitz, a member of Germany’s Green Party, sued his mobile phone provider to reveal what records it kept about him. The records including tracking data based on rough triangulation from the nearest cell-phone towers. Spitz then sent this information to Zeit Online, who combined it with Spitz’ personal blog and Twitter entries to produce an incredible animated map that reveals a surprisingly detailed account of his movements over a six-month period.

To reiterate, this was done all without GPS services and without Spitz requesting his movements be tracked — it was automatically generated simply by his mobile phone communicating with cell phone towers. It very much goes to show the importance of regulations that limit retention periods for this kind of data, given how detailed a reconstruction can be made of an individual’s life.