Data Protection in Pakistan, Geo-targeting , geotargeting, geo targeting, geo fencing, geofencing , geo-fencing in Pakistan, Facebook, Google, Privacy in Pakistan

There are many types of Geofencing which is a location-based service that uses GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi, or cellular data to create a virtual boundary around a real-world geographic area. The result of setting up the virtual boundary is that when a device enters or exits the geofence, an action can be triggered. This action can be anything from sending a notification to the device to triggering an event in a software application.

Geofencing is used by businesses and organizations in Pakistan for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Marketing and advertising: Geofencing can be used to target mobile ads to users who are in a specific location. For example, a shop could use geofencing to send a notification to users who are within walking distance of their store offering discounts.Social media apps like facebook and twitter and companies like google use your location data to offer their clients geofencing services to reach their users.As there is next to no privacy law in Pakistan targeting data protecting specifically, these companies are able to use your data because you have ‘agreed’ to share your location in their terms and conditions.
  • Security and safety: Geofencing can be used to track the location of devices and people. This can be used for a variety of purposes, such as tracking the location of children or employees, or monitoring the movement of assets.A key use of Geofencing in Pakistan has been tracking down criminals or suspects involved in rioting or public disorder or other crimes.These techniques use biometrics to track down suspects in photographs and videos through biometrics on NADRA and then connect to their location via their telephones or GPS.In Pakistan police and intelligence agencies use geofencing to track down and monitor locations of suspects.In the absence of proper constitutional safeguards and the defence of ‘public interest’, there is little the citizens can do to protect their personal information, activities and location.
  • Fleet management: Geofencing can be used to track the location of vehicles in a fleet. This information can be used to improve efficiency and safety, such as by ensuring that vehicles are not driving in restricted areas or that they are not speeding.This is commonly used by car owners who give out their cars for rent to people.While it helps the owner of the car to track down their property, it poses a dilemma of privacy for the person renting the car.
  • Event management: Geofencing can be used to manage events. For example, a concert promoter could use geofencing to create a geofence around the venue and send notifications to users who are within the geofence when the doors open or when the show starts. This technology has yet to begin its use in Pakistan, as the use of Geofencing is largely seen in marketing so far.An interesting use of Geofencing could be used in the food delivery industry.However large multinationals like Mc Donalds and Dominoes already use some form of Geofencing when getting repeat orders from a phone number, by saving the data and using it to not only identify a repeat client but also geotargeting their ADs to them.

Geofencing is still in its infancy in Pakistan and while it is a powerful tool that can be used for a variety of purposes, there has to be caution exercised where people’s right to privacy is concerned. A common example is Geofencing warrants or court orders to Google which uses your agreement to share your location to disclose your location at a certain point in time to law enforcement agencies.Geofence warrants or court orders are requests to Google to use its massive library of location data, commonly known as the “Sensorvault,” to identify persons who were in the area when a crime was committed.These requests have been helpful in solving crimes and it is possible that the Pakistani law enforcement agencies might be using similar requests to Google for apprehending criminals where GPS data is not very effective.But this has become a grey area of privacy law.Identifying people around a crime scene who may or may not be witnesses or have nothing to do with a particular crime may be a breach of constitutional rights.Just as the recent decision by California Court of Appeal given a few weeks ago has shown that a geofence warrant seeking information on all devices located within several densely-populated areas in Los Angeles violated the Fourth Amendment. This is the first time an appellate court in the United States has reviewed a geofence warrant. The case was People v Meza.

The month of May 2023 has been a month of increased police surveillance in Pakistan following the arrest of Imran Khan.A lot of emphasis has been placed on tracking down suspects via Geofencing techniques.Whether or not this will trigger a debate as to how far the State can go to utilize geofencing in targeting suspects and political dissidents is yet to be seen.

As the technology continues to develop in Pakistan, we can expect to see even more innovative and creative uses for geofencing in the future.But what is missing is a comprehensive body of legislation and constitutional decisions which draw the line as to the extent surveillance can go and infringe upon the privacy of people, whether they are common potential consumers or suspects in possible breaches of the law.

By The Josh and Mak Team

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