An Australian government study suggests it’s difficult to track the movements of your disposable devices.
Key points:A study found most disposable tracking gadgets were either unplugged or turned offThe report says most devices are left in a “low-profile” location where they can be easily trackedThe study also found there was little awareness of the devices, and no data collection mechanism for them to be collectedAn Australian Government study found almost a quarter of people who own a disposable tracking gadget are unaware of its use.
The study, conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Centre for Environmental Health, looked at data from 1,521 disposable tracking units, which were found in most homes, restaurants and shops.
It found that about two-thirds of the units were unplugging, and almost half of the owners had turned off the device.
The majority of the unit owners reported using it as a tracker for their own personal tracking.
The data collected by the study showed most devices were left in low-profile locations, and only around 25 per cent of them had an active monitoring feature.
The research also found most of the people surveyed had no idea their tracking devices were being monitored, and some did not know that they were being tracked.
“We know that in Australia we have a number of people with disposable tracking and it’s a common issue and it can be frustrating,” Dr Rebecca Smith, the director of the Centre on Environmental Health at the University of New South Wales, said.
“So we thought that the most important thing to do is educate people.”
Dr Smith said the study was an opportunity for governments to engage with people who owned disposable tracking.
“There are some very serious issues around the privacy of disposable tracking data and we think the information we’re gathering will help to inform the way in which the government deals with the issue of tracking people’s personal information,” she said.
A report released last year by the Commonwealth’s Privacy Commissioner found more than 20 per cent Australians were concerned about their personal information being shared without their consent.
“Data on a person’s personal life can be collected without consent or the knowledge or consent of that person,” the report said.
In the new study, the researchers used data from the survey to investigate the prevalence of unpluggability and the location of the disposable tracking unit, with a focus on the “low profile” location of most devices.
“These are things that are fairly well known in the consumer world and so the consumer knows about them,” Dr Smith said.
She said the devices were often left in high-profile areas and were rarely used for routine tasks.
“They’re used as tracking devices for things like watching television or checking their mail or checking the fridge,” she told ABC News.
“The main thing that you should know is that they’re not used for the purpose of capturing data about your personal life.”
The researchers said the findings were similar to previous studies.
“It’s not clear to us that the data collected was particularly relevant for understanding the motivations behind people’s choice to remove their devices from the household,” Dr Jones said.