The last few weeks I have see a remarkable increase of claims that some services are increasing potential security risks for its users. The security risks aren’t online issues, but things that can happen in real life, like for example stalking, burglary, theft and other not very nice things that can happen to you.
However this is all the result of some people being very scared of new things. Even more: this is not new, thieves already used obituaries to pick a house and to take everything that was there while others were grieving over their loss and the last few moments together. The fact is that if I mention in for example Brightkite that I am in Utrecht (a city in the Netherlands where the office of Capgemini is) does not necessarily mean that I am in Utrecht. The only thing you know for sure is that I entered in Brightkite that my location is Utrecht.
Same goes for Twitter, when I say I will be leaving for a swim at a certain time and I do not tweet afterward, did I then leave for a swim? Or am I still at home? And even more important for a thief: where would my home be (ok in my case it wouldn’t be too hard to retrieve since I am rather open about such data, however for a lot of other people it is a lot harder to track).
Last service I mention: there are quite a few services that track where you are in real time (Latitude, but also many others). The only reason I am not using one is because there isn’t one available on my iPhone. However if you look at the map where I am (data provided by such a service). The only thing you know that there is some kind of device on that location which is logged in via my credentials.
Aren’t there any issues at all? Well it is an issue, but it isn’t a new one. I think you will hardly hear any discussion in the bus that someone is telling he has € 100k in his suitcase and is going for a walk in the park in the dark with that suitcase. Just be careful what you say via those services, however keep in mind that the biggest security issue is YOU, the input provider. You decide what to tell and what to share. The service only shows the input you are sharing.