How knowing my location can make you rich?

Updated: Mar 15

We are not only getting reliant on mobile devices, it is becoming our necessity to keep them with us due to million reasons but their very basic working need something which can be used to make huge amount of money while exploiting your privacy and this all can be done in the most legal ways.

You might have a basic idea of how mobile devices work, it is that every smart phone is constantly connected to the nearest cellular tower and this needs to know its location in order to get your phones and messages to you and this is the basic idea of how it should work, but does it help someone to make money from you? – yes, it does, but there is more to the story.

Actually, your phone got two important things in order to be unique which is IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) and IMSI (International mobile subscriber identity) and when your phone screams in the air “I’m here!”, it actually transmit its IMEI and IMSI in all directions with of course radio frequencies and ultimately gets listened by the guy with big ears, yes! you got it right – a cellular tower, tower listens up and compares frequency of “scream” (or lets say “ping”) with other towers and whoever is listening it louder, it gets bound to that particular tower and makes a record that this phone is with me at this location at this time which helps you to receive a call or notifications on your device.

The red dot is your location which gets bound to the nearest cellular tower.

This then mean that other cellular towers makes a record when you are in their range or are just passing by. Let’s say on a particular day, you are going somewhere, this is your location chart according to cellular towers in the area:

Your journey started at L1 location near Tower T1 and ended at L4 near T3.

If you follow the same path for few days and your data is stored, it can easily make a route map for all the days you followed what path, see updated map:

You started on L1 (Location 1) at 8:00 am and end at L4 at 9:00 am via T1, T4, T5 and T3.

Now that you see system knows your route map with the data stored and can use it to know where do you work and how long does it take you to get there from your home. Obviously, if It reads your data for 2 weeks, dumbest system will know that you live at L1, work at L4 and you follow a particular route to work which takes you around an hour to get there and it gets better over time like this:

Your route during weekend, which is little different than your usual one.

And you leave your “Home” at 5:00 pm at weekends and you travel to L5 which is new, which is a location you occasionally go while returning after “Work” on weekdays (your wife doesn’t know this..) and this is very close to some party hub or a bar, so now system knows you better than your wife! It knows where you have been this morning, last Saturday, what you like (obviously partying), where you stay, with whom you hang around (ie a random device with your device at particular days) and here we go towards making money from you after all these efforts:

Targeted recommendations based on your routes and your habits.

Now that system (or lets say a cellular company) knows about you well, it sells your data to the restaurants around your office to provide you with lunch offers (because you got out on lunch time), to cab services to reach you with cab offers near your home, bar shops to provide you coupon codes so that you can spend on the days you don’t want to, to a dine out where you visit on Sundays with your kids (Obviously, devices with same home address) and even to real state companies to offer you a home closer to your office. If you move online this can be used for targeted ads on almost every website you visit, eCommerce websites you open and even inside your FB feed.

"Now system knows you better than your wife! It knows where you have been this morning, last Saturday, what you like (obviously partying), where you stay, with whom you hang around (ie a random device with your device at particular days), scary?"

The cellular location data which initially intended to be personal and temporary is gets stored for “some” reasons and it no longer belongs to you, but a big guy with deep pockets can make a great deal with providers to get data which can result in extremely high conversion rates, there are lots of data brokers in the market which can facilitate you with customised needs because this is turning into a really big industry and even before we knew such a thing is possible, companies made billions out of it already and this is how knowing my location can make you rich!