How Does my Phone Know Where I Work?!

It's a Google Now algorithm. But is it safe to use?

Let's talk about how it works:

It works by the phone checking your location every so often, and it has guessed that because you commute fairly regularly to a certain location, that's where you work.

Once it establishes that, when you stop moving at above human-capable speeds, it marks that location as where you parked.

It knows when you need to leave because it gathers data from local news stations, other Now users, and radio to check traffic and weather conditions.

It's capable of a lot more than that if you play around with it. I use it to schedule my whole day!  (You may be thinking,"Are you crazy?!" Nope, read to the end!)

Should I be worried about privacy?

We all should be educated - but I wouldn't be worried about privacy with this specific service.

When it comes to privacy, you have three attackers:

1. Your government.

2. Foreign government.

3. 'Black Hat' hackers that just want your money and identity.

For the first, the only realistic way for most people not to be tracked is to not use technology or be around it at all. Pretty much impossible. Vote for who you want to have this kind of power! (And preferably, vote for persons trying to eliminate that kind of power.)

If foreign governments or black hats target you, the best thing to do is have good passwords, updated phones, security software, and know the basic principles of phishing.

Should I disable the 'Now' scheduling functions?

Probably not. It likely won't make a difference on real life privacy.

Google is pretty secure. They could do better, but so could everybody. So that provides a reasonable expectation of relative security against the last two as well even using this particular feature.

Effectively, your government tracks all this data anyway whether you use it consciously or not, and if you follow the basic security principles I listed, you at least won't be more insecure than everyone else against the hackers and foreign actors.

Since we're already tracked - might as well use that data to make our life easier to schedule. Is it a perfect solution? No. But the alternative is far more drastic than is feasible to live a normal life.

Where can I learn more?

If you want more information on this, pick up the documentary CitizenFour. It's pretty interesting, and covers why this power is dangerous in the wrong hands.

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