What is Respectful Use of Location Information? New Me2BA Research Published

Written by Internet Safety Labs

November 22, 2021

As we’ve been performing independent product audits over the past year and a half, we received some push-back on our passing criteria related to the automatic translation of IP address to geographic location. Vendors felt that automatically calculating the user’s geographical location was, in fact, a benefit. However, in our specification, that behavior will receive a failing score. At an impasse, we decided to conduct some validation testing with Me-s.  

Through qualitative and quantitative research, we did, in fact, confirm that our passing criteria reflects Me-s’ sensitivities around automatic location calculation.  

Read more about it in our latest Spotlight Report, “Spotlight Report #3: Consumer Sensitivity to Location Tracking by Websites and Mobile Apps. This research quantifies and qualifies public opinion of location tracking in a variety of different contexts within web and mobile technology. Key findings include: 

  • 72% of people for websites and 68% of people for mobile apps do not consider location tracking to be acceptable before an account is created. 
  • 55% of people consider it “creepy” when websites know their location when they first open the site. 
  • Location sensitivity is context and control sensitive, so that people are more comfortable with location tracking when it is necessary (ex. directions, deliveries, weather, traffic) and when they are asked for permission. 
  • 81% of people for websites and 68% of people for mobile apps used at least one negative term to describe location tracking including creepy, bad, annoying, scary, and confusing. 

See this press release for more highlights of the report. 

Constant validation of our standard with Me-s is crucial to producing a safety specification that reflects the sensibilities of everyday people.    

“Research is the foundation of our efforts to create standards for safe and ethical technology. We think location tracking on app open is wrong, but as a standards organization that is the voice and advocate of people across the internet, we don’t trust our opinions alone. We can only be sure by conducting research on how people — Me-s in our parlance — really feel. In this case, the research clearly shows we are right. The extensive findings in this survey validate that our scoring standards are solidly based on how people really feel about location tracking.”

Lisa LeVasseur, Executive Director, Me2BA

This research is one of several validation studies to confirm and quantify the public’s desire for a safer, more respectful digital world. Stay tuned and become a part of the movement as we continue to conduct research that allows us to set standards to ensure human dignity in connected technology.