Back in 2003-2004 I helped create one of the firsts location-based solutions for mobile called WorkTrack (San Francisco startup Aligo later acquired by Corrigo). Such experience helped raise my level of awareness when it comes to location (and any sensitive) information and mobile. Then back in 2005 I wrote:

Location-based applications can bring many benefits to business processes, and help create exciting social and business software, but poorly used or mismanaged, especially when applied to people or personal information, can become a major area of concern with respect to privacy.

…and with it I also wrote some guidelines for developers on using location information on mobile applications. These have been evolving since then and today can be summarized as follows:

  • Always Alert the User
  • The End-User, the Ultimate Decision Maker
  • Safeguard All Captured Information
  • Use Geofecing responsibly | Use Passive Tracking instead
  • Be responsible…

Today I read some great Best Practices for Handling Android User Data (Nick Kralevich, Android Developers Blog) that echoes similar guidelines plus other good ones that I recommend you read:

  • Maintain a privacy policy
  • Minimize permissions
  • Give your users a choice regarding data collection
  • Don’t collect unnecessary information
  • Don’t send data off the device
  • … but if you have to, use encryption and data minimization
  • Don’t use code you don’t understand
  • Don’t log device or user specific information.

Following guidelines such as the ones described above is of extreme importance; be proactive about these. Key to mobile is trust and violating the user’s trust is something you obviously want to avoid.

Related to this see my LBS page.