Archive for the ‘Presence’ Category

Belysio and the Privacy Controversy regarding LBS

September 13, 2008

I’m a promiscuous digital networker. I’m participating, more or less actively, in about 10 social networks (and doing research for my Everything 2.0 index, I’ve registered to hundreds more). Everywhere I’ve submitted my real name, my real contact data, and (wherever I took the trouble) a real photo. And now that I use Belysio, 24/7, I’m also abundantly sharing my whereabouts.
Am I in danger now? Will people break in at my office when they see that I’m abroad, or will a burglar do some fun shopping in my living room when he sees I’m in a business meeting in the next city? Do the approximately thousands of people that I’ve shared my data with on Xing, LinkedIn, Facebook or Belysio spam me with unwanted messages? Will phishers steal my credit card data? Will people steal my identity?

I don’t think so. I think being totally transparent, and being as generous in sharing data as I can, will be rewarded by people giving me back the same, or even more of it. (In the 4 years that I’ve been part of Xing and LinkedIn I’ve never traced even one spam message from somebody with whom I shared my emaill address!).
Do I think that everybody should behave as abundantly “open” as I do? Definitely not. Kids shouldn’t, full stop. Women should always be more careful than men. If your boss tracks you through any location service, he’d better have a very good business reason for it, that you can endorse.

Everybody should be able to tweak their privacy settings to the exact level they feel comfortable with, under all feasible circumstances.

Belysio seems to comply to all criteria in this LBS Privacy model

Belysio seems to comply to all criteria in this LBS Privacy model

That facility to tweak your privacy settings is one of the things that Belysio is excellent in. They’ve defined privacy protection as one of their core competencies. But what’s more, every time I log in, they take care of making me aware of the fact that I’m sharing something sensitive if I share my location, by asking me to opt in to either sharing it with no one, my family, my friends, my other contacts, or strangers. Furthermore, they’re offering me a whole set of features to calibrate my “openness”, up to extremely granular, social and circumstancial levels.

There may, however, be some privacy matters that Belysio has overseen. Do you see any room for improvements?

Tips for further reading:
The Harris Report 2007 (PDF).
David H. Williams, LBS Development – Determining Privacy Requirements.
C. Enrique Ortiz, Privacy Notes: Geofencing and Guidelines for LBS Developers.
Sam Altman (Loopt), Best Practices for Location-based Services: Privacy, User Control, Carrier Relations, Advertising & More.
Privacy concerns a major roadblock for LBS adoption.
US Code of Conduct.
Belysio privacy policy.


Embodying the phone

September 3, 2008

Without a doubt, “social phone apps & services” are amongst the most interesting areas within the community zone. Intelligent phones have reached a level of critical mass everywhere. Furthermore, some (open source!) databases and some solution providers are making it much easier now to port apps and content to more mobile phone operating systems. Interfaces are getting (slowly…) better. Digital natives are often preferring their mobile connectivity above web based communications – and they are exploring all new phone features (mms, video, games) that “digital immigrants” have been consistently ignoring.
But the biggest boost will come from these new apps encouraging their owners to be “always on”, extending the phone’s core capabilities with the phenomenon of “presence”.


One of the many good things of Belysio is that they don’t keep you waiting for LBS until you’ve acquired a new GPS enabled phone. They offer location and ‘proximity aware’ services now, on virtually all regular phones! Location based services have thus not only reached our back pockets, anytime, anywhere – “socializing” communications and content much further than I’d imagined even a year ago, we’re embodying them. Or where else does the pain come that I feel when my Belysio app is off?