When and where was that QR code scanned?
Valuable information for marketing companies!
Most modern mobile telephones or smart-phones have location awareness systems built into the device, like GPS (Global Positioning System). These bits of technology enable the device to know exactly where it is located on this small planet called earth at anytime and anywhere provided it has battery power to function (and a satellite or two or three it can receive information from).
If I scan a QR code do they know who I am, when and where I scaned which QR code?
Yes and no. Some factors under your control can determien the amount of information that is known by whom and when.
Lets examine a simple scenario of a mobile phone with a QR code scanner application.
A quick look at who knrows what about your activities (very baic) on your mobile phone/tablet when you use it to scan a QR code.
- Mobile provider (signal [voice/data] provider) knows exactly where you are as well as any and all activities undertaken on the mobile device at any time.
- QR code scanner application you choose to use: Many (like E.T.) call home.. informing the programmers of the QR reader application you are using to itell them of the activities you would like to undertake and the activities the QR code would like to undertake.
- The QR code target: The action the QR code would like to undertake. This can br embedded information, meaning it does not rely on any service to deliver it's 'meassge' to you personally. In this case potentially, besides the QR code app devleopers, only you know what the contents of the QR code are, a message, a telephone number, vCard or what ever. If it needs an Internet or other service connection, for example to go to a web site, then the website could know your IP number, the version and type of phone used, the browser type and version, the time the request was made.
- GPS as geolocator, to pinpoint the location of a mobile phone, has been available for some time on most modern mobile telephones are equiped with it. Despite 'G' currently in a legal battles with triangular location hardware and software development companies, geolocation has managed to achieve W3C validation and standardization and is part of the HTML5 specification at present.
Putting it to the test
If you have an iPhone, scan the QR code below and see how it deals with determining exactly where you are. If you're on this page with an iPad, clcik on the QR code.
As expected it does need and ask for permission to supply your co-ordinates before undertaking to find out where you are. It found me really fast on my iPhone.
Using geolocation in combination with QR scanning can help determine which codes get scanned where, but because it relies on the person scanning it to allow location information to be transfered it is not a watertight solution for analysis nor statistics.
If 100% geolocation for QR code scanning is required then other resources and methods are needed.