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BBC News reports on a new study revealing that patterns of human movement are predictable enough to identify a specific smartphone user from four data points. The Scientific Reports study analyzed 15 months of human mobility data on 1.5 million users. In an age of ubiquitous mobile phone usage, aggregated datasets are coveted by advertisers, help map emergency services and fuel a new generation of social scientists. The report concludes, however, that “even coarse datasets provide little anonymity” to users. “These findings represent fundamental constraints to an individual’s privacy and have important implications for the design of frameworks and institutions dedicated to protect the privacy of individuals,” the study states.
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