Study secretly tracks cellular users outside US
Researchers used cell phone towers to track individuals' locations whenever they made or received phone calls and text messages over six months. In a second set of records, researchers took another 206 cell phones that had tracking devices in them and got records for their locations every two hours over a week's time period.
The study was based on cell phone records from a private company, whose name also was not disclosed.
Study co-author Cesar Hidalgo, a physics researcher at Northeastern, said he and his colleagues didn't know the individual phone numbers because they were disguised into "ugly" 26-digit-and-letter codes.
That type of nonconsensual tracking would be illegal in the United States, according to Rob Kenny, a spokesman for the Federal Communications Commission. Consensual tracking, however, is legal and even marketed as a special feature by some U.S. cell phone providers.
The study showed that 75% of people stay within a 20 mile circle around their home during the six months. But data withstanding: readers, despite the fact that researchers say they went to extremes to ensure privacy, how would you like to be one of the "participants" in the study?