When it was made public that Palm’s WebOS was periodically phoning home to update Palm and its affiliates with Palm Pre user location data, there was a lot of talk about “Big Brother” and concerns for privacy. Today, BGR has uncovered a patent application that might take the WebOS’s location-tracking technology even further into your private life. Palm has filed for a patent that would provide the WebOS “a method and system thereof that can be used to more effectively target advertisements and other services to users of wireless communication devices.”
In case that legalese is too much for you to chew, Palm is basically looking to take the location-specific information from your Palm Pre and push advertisements to your phone based on your current location. That means some computer somewhere knows where you are and serves up ads that best match the area you’re in. Scared yet?
It gets worse. Palm can even figure out your where you will likely be traveling in the near future by looking at your upcoming calendar appointments. Armed with that info, Palm can push ads that offer services and products tailored to a future location. Palm will basically know where you are and where you plan to go. You should be scared now.
Of course, Palm can’t infer your travel plans if you leave location data out of your calendar appointments. Then again, that kind of cripples the calendar application.
Palm has yet to go live with location-based advertising, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t already collecting location-data in preparation. Take that how you will.