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European Court Rules on Privacy — Is Location Next?

May 29, 2014  - By

google-afterThe highest court in the European Union has granted the right to be forgotten by a search engine. Will location privacy be next on the docket? We are seeing the beginnings of the in-car smartphone-type apps market and are watching for approaching hockey-stick style growth that is a year or two away. Google has added rich, engaging features to maps. And we take a look at results from indoor location advertising. Read more.

The European Court (EU) of Justice, made a curious and powerful ruling on privacy. The court stated that upon request, Google is obliged to remove reputation-hurting information that is generated by searching a person’s name. Like Mr. González, who brought this case to court, many of us have things in our distant past that we don’t want to be aired each time we are Googled. Perhaps it is an old bankruptcy or a youthful prank gone bad. The continuous re-airing of this information can make it hard for people to move forward in their lives. But while the court rule serves a purpose, it is poorly conceived and vague. The administrative complexity for search engines to comply is staggeringly onerous. And the information that it seeks to shield will still reside in websites.

How does this relate to location privacy? The EU Court of Justice is in the mood for privacy restrictions, and the use and handling of location data may be in their scopes. Also, sensitive location information can turn up in Google searches. A person in the EU will be able to request to have it shielded. Location information can be revealing. There may be records of check-ins from the café outside a rehab center or other treatment center, for instance.

Market, Fast Approaching. Companies are falling over each other for a piece of a new market about to burst open — software apps within vehicles. Analysts at IHS Automotive expect there will be 370 million smartphone apps for cars in use by 2020, a hefty growth from the 6.9 million units projected by the end of this year. Aha Radio is in Honda cars. General Motors is embedding Pandora, the music streaming app. 4G Internet connectivity will be in some GM and Audi models next year. BMW is opening app stores, this year in Europe and next year in the U.S.

The Players. Google and Apple (Google Projected Mode and Apple CarPlay) are poised to together dominate the market for auto apps integration, but other companies are in pursuit as well, including MirrorLink, Aha by Harman, and Ford Sync AppLink. North America is ahead of the global rush. Let’s hope some money flows into Detroit.

Google v. Apple. Information about Googles’ Projected Mode is scarce. Daimler posted an ad for a software engineer to help implement Google’s new in-car system, referred to as “Google Projected Mode.” The employment ad described Project Mode as a way to “seamlessly integrate” Android smartphones into a dashboard’s head unit. There is no mystery about Apple’s CarPlay, an extension of IOS. CarPlay simplifies the in-car experience by offering the same look and feel as an iPhone.

GM Pulls Ahead. Ford was the early automotive leader to offer smartphone-type apps with its Sync system, but more recent versions of the offering have had issues. They weren’t alone. Other car makers have had confusing interfaces that often contained annoying bugs. IHS now predicts that vehicle OEM adoption and integration will be led by General Motors. “Apps for autos are growing rapidly and will have a profound impact on auto infotainment and connectivity in the next decade,” said Egil Juliussen of IHS Automotive. “Auto apps will influence the competitive landscape among auto manufacturers and will even change the brand market share between them. OEMs will have to keep up to remain competitive.”

Better Google Maps. Google’s navigation system will now offer less congested or otherwise quicker routes during navigation, a byproduct of Google’s purchase of Waze. In addition, the navigation system will now advise on the best traffic lane, replacing less precise directions such as “keep left at the fork.” Google has partnered with cab provider Uber to show how long it would take to get home via cab when searching for public transit or walking directions. Google maps also now enable users to save entire cities for offline use.

Indoor Location Pays? In order for retailers to adopt indoor location technology, there needs to be clear returns. “A body of information is now gathering that verifies the effectiveness of these technologies,” reports Dominque Bonte of ABI Research. “We can see how limited trials are showing increases of advertising local search click-through rates from 0.1 to 3.5 percent, indoor location applications increasing basket sizes 10 percent, and how smartphones are significantly changing the cross channel shopping habits of users.”

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About the Author:

Janice Partyka is principal of JGP Services,, a consulting practice that helps companies with marketing strategy, including investigating new markets, ensuring product roadmaps match market needs, and creating marketing campaigns. Janice develops websites, social media, public relations and overall marketing communication. She also works as an expert witness for the mobile industry and conducts prior art searches for patent cases. Janice has served in leadership capacities in the wireless industry, leading marketing, business development, media and government relations, including serving as vice president of external affairs for TechnoCom Corporation. She briefed the Obama transition team on broadband issues. Janice was a twice-elected member of the board of directors of the E9-1-1 Institute, which supports the work of the U.S. Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus to ensure implementation of wireless E9-1-1, and she was telecom liaison to the Intelligent Transportation Society's World Congress. Janice is a frequent speaker at mobile and location industry events. Her webinars on mobile applications and technologies draw audiences from more than 40 countries. Janice Partyka is also the founder of, a web service that helps college students find the right major that will lead to a satisfying career. Contact: Janice Partyka at, Free subscriptions to Wireless LBS Insider are available at

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