Location-aware Browsing Steps Out of the Shadows: Why Firefox Wants to Track You!

Location-aware Browsing

It seems you cannot switch on an app or open a web page without being asked:

-          Can [we] track your current location:  Allow / Don’t  Allow

This flood first began with a trickle, manifesting itself in changes to search engine behavior, particularly Google, who started asking small business owners to create Google Place listings to assist with localized search results and general SEO requirements; much of which complement their website presence which , for some, is powered by our shared hosting plans.

This approach found its way into other search engines including Bing and Yahoo, followed by social media networks such as Facebook. Of course Foursquare could be considered the granddaddy of local “check-ins” but generally just about every major website or app now features some degree of geo-tracking, either programmatically or by users manually assigning a location in the application.

Typically,  the message “Allow / don’t allow my location to be tracked for anonymous data reporting (your personal details remain private)” is now the standard model being applied by the big tech companies as visitors trigger an application or land on websites powered by cheap hosting providers.

This has become known as Location-Aware Browsing which Firefox browser, for instance, defines as a model whereby “websites that use location-aware browsing will ask where you are in order to bring you more relevant information, or to save you time while searching. Let’s say you’re looking for a pizza restaurant in your area. A website will be able to ask you to share your location so that simply searching for ‘pizza’ will bring you the answers you need… no further information or extra typing required.”

Firefox states that users will not be tracked as they browse the web, since they are only sharing our initial starting location, not subsequent locations as you move from site to site, or app to app.

Generally, users have the ability to turn off location-aware browsing permanently, although it differs from vendor to vendor.

This surge in location tracking is also being spurred on by the massive uptake in mobile web browsing, which is expected to be the dominant form of web access by the end of 2013. Upcoming releases of the iPhone 5 and other Android smartphones will add further fuel to the fire as search engine giants and social media hubs, attempt to connect users, content and advertisers through data related to your present location.

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About Jake Neeley

Jake Neeley is a content marketing and social media geek who loves reading, outdoor sports (especially those in Utah mountains), and time with his family. Connect with Jake on Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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