Researchers Warn that Accelerometer in Smartphones Facilitates Tracking of Users Online
Smartphone users should be warned about the presence of accelerometers in their handsets. Accelerometers are components that facilitate detection of changes in orientation of devices. Those are responsible for instructing the screen to rotate relative to the position of the smartphone when in use.
Researchers at the Stanford University along with those from the Israel Institute of Technology revealed that accelerometers could give government agencies, advertisers, and other third parties the ability to track any user online. This may be a source of personal security and privacy issue.
Accelerometers for online tracking
The same researchers have established a Website that would collect such data. But they disclosed that the online site would not be able to gather information from any user unless he flips the smartphone to change or adjust orientation. In the future, the researchers would integrate a data mining script to boost the Website’s data collection capability.
It is also possible that new identification methods would be devised and used to mine accelerometer information while a handset is being used. This should not be good news to smartphone users. Instead, it should be an added source of stress as it could make the problem about security and privacy worse.
Users should also know that no two handsets have exactly identical production lines. There are tiny ‘defects’ found in accelerometers that could be unique per smartphone. This may mean that tracking and identification could be more accurate in the future. One way or another, users would not just be tracked; they could also be properly and accurately identified.
No other option
To make matters worse, most Internet browsers today help make accelerometer information available to Webpage code even without the knowledge and consent of the user. He may not be aware that he is being identified and tracked. This could be more dangerous if used by unscrupulous parties.
There may be nothing smartphone users could do about it. There would be no cookies to be used for deleting and changing of privacy settings. In the end, this may lead to unlikely scenarios that many handset users would not like.