How Many Personal Identifiers Does Your Cell Phone Carry?

September 27th, 2013

Data from over one million cell phone users has revealed that it takes very little information to personally identify each user. The study concluded that only four spatio-temporal points were needed to achieve accurate information about a user.

Basically, a spatio-temporal point is where a user is geographically located at the time they’re using their phone. And because the daily travels of each person are unique, only four of these points can be used to identify them. As well, it was discovered that the possibility of two people ending up in the same four locations during four different times of day was highly unlikely. These results definitely shed light on personal privacy and the risks that could threaten it. It’s hoped that these findings will be kept in mind when developers create future technologies and policies.