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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Mozilla introduces service to provide geolocation lookups

Mozilla Firefox is attempting to provide geolocation lookups to list mobile phones, satellite and WiFi connections in different locations.
It will pick up new connections and list them on its Mozilla Location Service site so users can identify their approximate location even if they have weak GPS signal or laptops without GPS hardware.
The pilot project provides the geolocation lookups based on publicly observable cell tower and WiFi access point information. It is collecting its data from users who are contributing via its app, MozStumbler, and a leaderboard to encourage its crowdsourcers to gather more information
.Mozilla is asking people to upload the app and simply keep it turned on as they travel so it can feed back data to Mozilla.
On a blogpost on its website, it stated: "While many commercial services exist in this space, there’s currently no large public service to provide this crucial part of any mobile ecosystem. Mobile phones with a weak GPS signal and laptops without GPS hardware can use this service to quickly identify their approximate location.

""Even though the underlying data is based on publicly accessible signals, geolocation data is by its very nature personal and privacy sensitive. Mozilla is committed to improving the privacy aspects for all participants of this service offering."
Geolocation data is used by commerical companies such as Google and IPligence but here is still no large public service option, Mozilla said.
“None of the current companies offering this type of service have any incentive to improve on privacy,” Mozilla said in its Wiki page for the project.
“In order to do this assessment, we need to understand the technological challenges and get real data."
The data could be made available to the pubic and could eventually create programmes to rival existing ones such as Google Maps.
Google uses geolocation data but has previously faced legal issuesfor mapping data from Wi-Fi networks without asking for their owners' permission.
Source: Telegraph

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