Google's Beacon Tech Gets A New Security Patch

Even though it's been quite a while since Google developed its beacon technology which utilizes cheap Bluetooth transmitters in order to accurately track positions of its users, we're yet to see a widespread real-world application of this invention. Yes, retailers and related businesses were looking forward to the idea of offering personalized coupons and notifications to customers in close proximity to relevant places of business, but none of the beacon solutions have yet caught on. Whether that's because customers didn't like the idea of having their every move constantly tracked or the implementation simply wasn't good enough, products like Google beacons, Apple's iBeacons, and such have been pretty much forgotten by now.

Well, pretty much forgotten by everyone except for Google who still has high - or at least some - hopes for this technology. It's hard to tell why, but it's also hard to think of any other reason why Google would release a new security update for its beacon tech if the tech giant wasn't planning on utilizing it, licensing, or selling it to someone who does in the future. Specifically, the company's physical beacons can now be upgraded with something called Ephemeral IDs (EIDs). Each beacon has a unique EID which can be used to identify mobile devices of its users and larger beacon networks which in their vicinity, regardless of whether the said beacons are a part of those networks or not. However, unlike something like a static IP or MAC addresses, EIDs expire after a certain time period. That period can be set by their owner and can be as short as a second and as long as nine hours. In practice, this means that malevolent individuals would have a much harder time gaining unauthorized access to locations of users connected to any specific beacon. As Joseph Hall of Center for Democracy and Technology explains, EIDs would make Google's beacon tech much safer for end users whose privacy would be less likely to be invaded.

Google also revealed that 15 companies utilizing its beacon solution will start supporting EIDs as of this week, but there's been no word on how well is this technology currently doing on the market. Regardless of that, this security update definitely suggests that Google still has faith in beacon-based location tracking solutions.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Head Editor
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]