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Difference between revisions of "Privacy issues"

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===Creation and editing of roads===
 
===Creation and editing of roads===
 
When you [[recording a new road|record a new road]] or edit the layout or details of an existing road, your Waze username is linked to that road. It is natural to edit roads around your home, work, and along your common routes. This may make it easier to identify you and link a Waze nickname commonly travelling on roads created or edited by a Waze nickname.
 
When you [[recording a new road|record a new road]] or edit the layout or details of an existing road, your Waze username is linked to that road. It is natural to edit roads around your home, work, and along your common routes. This may make it easier to identify you and link a Waze nickname commonly travelling on roads created or edited by a Waze nickname.
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Other map edits such as adding [[house numbers]] are recorded with your Waze username and may make it easier to identify you.
  
 
===Discussion forums===
 
===Discussion forums===

Revision as of 07:54, 3 October 2010

Waze has a strong commitment to protecting your privacy and anonymity.

Privacy options in the client app

By default, Waze is configured to keep your details private. This protection is not perfect due to privacy leakage.

The User Manual explains the configuration settings for privacy.

Privacy Leakage

Privacy leakage is the disclosure and linking of personal information to an apparently anonymous profile. Privacy leakage is not unique to Waze. In fact Waze has very good privacy settings and policies. But they are no perfect, and some problems are inherent to any internet connected service that may contain location information, including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and your photos (which may be geotagged). The fact that Waze supports all these options compounds the problem.

This list of ways you can lose your privacy is intended to be complete, but there may be other ways not yet recorded.

Driving location

Waze is configured by default to display your location as an anonymous driver.

The location of wazers is publicly available to other wazers and on the internet, unless you choose Waze to not display your driving location. Rather than being anonymous, you can choose to have your location associated with your nickname.

To add to your privacy, the location display is delayed, so the location given is where you were 2 minutes earlier.

Even when your location is displayed anonymously, there can be privacy leakage. On long highways, isolated country roads, or when travelling at a distance from your home you will have greater privacy protection if you do not display your driving location.

It may also be possible to identify you from your driving location or driving patterns, especially when combined with an identifying nickname, or other location databases. If you arrive at home and leave Waze on, it will show you in your driveway or home. This may be enough to locate your street address. Public databases such as local government (county) tax and rating records and phone books can be used with an address to find a full name and other personal information.

And if a wazer comes close enough to see your car and its license plate, that car registration information can be used to collect personal information and identify you.

Nickname and Username

When you first install Waze you are given a random user name. If you change this user name, you may provide additional information about your identity. A first name may be enough to identify you if people observe you regularly driving to the same company location, or to the same street address. Having your company name as part of your nickname may help identify you. Using the same nickname as you use on other social networks like Twitter or Facebook may help identify you. Making a forum post using your nickname where you mention your real name or other personal information may help identify you. This personal information can then be linked to your Waze nickname and Waze identity.

The same issues apply to your username which is used on the Waze website, including Map Editing and Discussion forums. Your choice of username and nickname may make it easy to link the two.

Twitter

You can choose to link your Waze account to Twitter. By default this will post your road reports to Twitter. You can also choose you tweet your destination, ETA and road munching reports. All of these will disclose your location and movements. By default Twitter accounts are open to the public, and now just your followers. Your Twitter profile may include personal information which can be linked to you and your Waze identity.

Facebook

You can choose to link your Waze account to Facebook. By default this will show your Facebook profile picture to everyone. Facial recognition can be used to identify you. You may choose to disclose your name from Facebook (which is supposed to eb your real name). You can also choose you update Facebook with your destination, ETA and road munching reports. All of these will disclose your location and movements. Your Facebook profile may contain more information that allows you to be identified and that information linked to your Waze identity.

Foursquare

You can choose to link your Waze account to Foursquare. If you then choose Report/Check in with Foursquare, then Foursquare will disclose your locatiopn. Your settings on Foursquare may be linked to other networks such as Facebook and Twitter and update those as well. Your Foursquare image and profile and links to other social networks may allow you to be identified and that information linked to your Waze identity.

Waze Groups

You may not link to Twitter or Facebook, but you may be a member of a Waze group. Some of these groups are linked to Twitter. You make a traffic report which is shared with the group, and the group automatically sends it to Twitter and Facebook.

Automatic road reports

Even if your location is hidden, automatic road reports will disclose someone is on a road. Some roads are only travelled by a single Waze user, so some guesses can be made about locations and movements. This would rarely be a problem as such reports are rare and hard to link to an individual wazer if you are not also disclosing your location.

Of more concern is your Waze client app issuing false traffic reports, thinking you are stuck in traffic, rather than having stopped travelling at your home and work. A series of reports makes it much easier to identify a wazer living or working at a nearby location. It is important to turn off Waze when you have finished travelling, and not just put it in the background. This still remains a problem, as such false reports can be generated just by starting Waze to plan a route before departing.

Manual Road reports and Chit chat

These reports disclose your location, and possibly direction of travel. Making a road report or Chit chat where you mention your real name or other personal information may help identify you. By default such reports are posted with your nickname, although you can choose to be anonymous in the settings. But if you choose to publish road report to Twitter, even anonymous reports can be linked to your Twitter profile. Chit chat is considered to be a road report for the purposes of publishing to Twitter and Facebook. By default, road reports are sent to Twitter when you link Waze to your Twitter account. Road reports may also be sent as a Facebook update if you link Waze to Facebook, but the default setting is not to send to Facebook.

A combination of your Twitter profile and your nickname, or even anonymous Chit chat may help disclose personal information about you.

Creation and editing of roads

When you record a new road or edit the layout or details of an existing road, your Waze username is linked to that road. It is natural to edit roads around your home, work, and along your common routes. This may make it easier to identify you and link a Waze nickname commonly travelling on roads created or edited by a Waze nickname.

Other map edits such as adding house numbers are recorded with your Waze username and may make it easier to identify you.

Discussion forums

Discussion forum posts are made using your username. If you disclose your real name or other personal information in a forum post, this can be linked to your Waze username.

Car colour

If you have a distinctive car colour, and choose your Waze car colour to match, that may help identify you.

Practical considerations

Using Waze adds an insignificant amount of risk in day to day use

  • Most of us are not going to be the target of stalkers
  • Owning a smartphone running Waze does not mean our home is much more likely to be filled with valuable possessions. Running Waze does mean mean that your are more likely to have home security. But thieves may come to different conclusions
  • Most homes are empty while people are at work from 9am until 5pm. Thieves don't need Waze to know that
  • Waze by itself doesn't disclose if you are home alone, or if your home is empty
  • There are easier ways for thieves to find out which houses to rob

But be sensible

  • Don't Chit chat saying your whole family is away for 3 weeks leaving the house empty. You might Chit chat about how you forgot to feed your dog and you hope it doesn't attack anyone
  • Don't Chit chat about anything that makes you a target. For example, no Chit chat about how you hope your jewellery collection is safe in your wardrobe
  • You might choose to hide your location if it will show you heading out of town on a long holiday road trip
  • You might want to hide your location if you don't live in a city. If your house is the only one within 100m, it is not hard to identify who you are when you use Waze, even when you are set anonymous. That also means no Chit chat or traffic reports from your home location. The same applies if your workplace is isolated and you don't want that location disclosed