Your mobile operator has some pretty valuable data. They know who you call, who you text, what websites you visit, but most important they know where you are. You don’t need some fancy high end smartphone with GPS to figure out your location either, they know which cell tower your device is connected to at any given time. Researchers were given access to a giant set of anonymized data and they were able to predict with 93% where a user was going to be and when. Most people rarely left a 6 mile (9.7 km) radius, but even those who went hundreds, and even thousands of miles away from home, were just as easy to predict since they always end up going to the same places.
Privacy advocates may be going a little nuts right now, but think about the positive aspects of this kind of research. Civil planning to increase engagement with the city, knowing where to invest in a wireless network to provide better service, and many more endless possibilities. Maybe operators should stop complaining about being dumb pipes, and use the data they have to do something other than charge you 20 cents per text in order to make money.