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Understanding more about your smartphone's information
More people are aware of their phone being tracked these days. Here's a look into the way this works and the possible benevolent uses of knowing where your phone is.

The public is justifiably sensitive about their data and information being obtained, interpreted, and communicated to unknown entities. There is a cavernous difference between obtaining data and metrics. While personal information can be used for manipulation, a simple "head count" is used to communicate statistics such as who is using a service and where does the service need support.

Silicon Valley startup software developer BlueFox.io wanted to create as a system which allowed for linking several random MAC addresses to the same smartphone, allowing an accurate accounting of how many users utilized service in a particular area. An old school analogy might be the ability to look at the face of the cards in a deck rather than the shared/non-descript back facing of each of the fifty-two cards in a deck. Understanding what BlueFox.io does might be a way to educate one's self about the ways and reasons in which your phone is being tracked and discerning between the mundane as opposed to the controversial.

Thibault de Lacheze-Murel began working for BlueFox.io in 2017 as a software developer who is recognized and celebrated for the creation and filing of patent 119603-8005.US01for this invention. BlueFox wanted to create a way to measure customer analytics to better understand and assist their customers, which sounds easier than it actually is. You might think to yourself, "most people only have one phone so this is easy"…and you'd be wrong. In order to fully comprehend the situation, it's imperative to understand why someone would want to identify a MAC address. A MAC address is a unique identifier used by the phone to connect to a Wi-Fi network. When a phone is not connected to a network, instead of sending its real MAC it will send a MAC randomly generated. This MAC can change in seconds for the same phone. This could be a problem for the intentions of BlueFox as the same phone could be detected several times with a different identifier. This might be the easiest aspect of the situation to conceptualize, at least for most of us. Recognized as a leading force in the field, Thibault has a long history of problem solving when it comes to his intellect and proclivity for programming solutions. Further vetting his mastery was the fact that BlueFox hardware cannot store huge amounts of memory so his fix to the problem would need to be succinct.

Thibault explains, "After studying the Wi-Fi protocols, and the different methods used to randomize a MAC address, I found different ways in order to link different MAC addresses together. Indeed, it possible to grab other elements from the Wi-Fi protocol and create a unique signature in order to identify a unique phone. Then I created an algorithm, and implemented in the BlueFox product using the language C. A huge benefit of Language C is that it allowed me to control how much memory I was using. I then created an algorithm that was reusing all the existing structure it could. Instead of copying the MAC address several times in memory, I used memory pointers that gave me the original location of the MAC address in memory. The usage of memory pointer is one of the main advantages of language C. It is like an arrow that points to one location instead of having to rewrite the information in several places."

The ability to assess situations and find creative solutions typifies the exemplary talent of Thibault de Lacheze-Murel and reinforces the decision of BlueFox CEO Guillaume de La Tour to procure him for the company.

After understanding exactly what Thibault did for BlueFox, the question steers back to "why" this was needed. It's important to discuss a conversation to decipher what is of benevolent intent and malicious intent. The purposes for this project were to obtain metrics. BlueFox is adamant that BlueFox solution doesn't keep any personal data in their database. As soon as a new phone is detected, the count is incremented and the MAC is destroyed. BlueFox is not interested in tracking people and giving statistics about individual. There are no systems for gathering any marketing information but rather only on giving count statistics. It does however say something about society and the integration of technology in every aspect of our lives that something as simple as knowing how many individuals use a service must be scrutinized.

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