Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

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A service in Britain called mapAmobile can pinpoint the location of a cell phone user within 50 yards. It's being pitched as a way for parents to keep track of their children, which may dull the appeal of the now-ubiquitous devices for teens. There's some built in privacy protection, of course: subjects have to confirm their participation via text message, but the general idea is still unsettling. A less scrupulous company (or, perish the thought, government) could just as easily decide to offer the service without those safeguards, couldn't they?

NEXT: Candid Cameras

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  1. All of the major American carriers are rolling out similar functionality. They’ve actually been mandated to by the FCC, for the purpose of being able to track 911 calls, but many of the carriers see it as a way to offer value-added location-based services such as such as weather and traffic reports. A couple of Japanese carriers already offer location-based services.

  2. Okay, it IS a Brave New World! Still, I think we’ll adapt.

  3. Happy “adapting.”

    The Pentagon is currently developing surveillance software that scans databases of everyday transactions and personal records and is creating a computerized diary that would record and analyze everything a person says, sees, hears, reads or touches.

    Privacy experts — who already have seen the use of face-recognition technologies at a Super Bowl and monitoring cameras in London — are concerned about the potential impact of these technologies. According to John Pike, a Global Security.org analyst, the government will now have a reasonably good idea of where everyone is most of the time.

    SOURCE: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,90894,00.html

  4. I don’t know much about technology, but would it be possible for a company to develop a “blocker” of some sort, so that you couldn’t be tracked and you could still use your cell phone?

  5. Re: Happy “adapting.”

    Aw, why thank you!!

    C’mon, where’s the technological Panglossians when you need ’em? Is advanced technology really gonna turn all our lives into an Orwellian hell?

    I say ay to ever-vigilance, nay to alarmist doomsaying! For instance, Julian points out that teens can respond to parental snooping through cell phones by losing their interest in the toys. That’s adaptation for you! As for government snooping, we just need to continue to insist that a warrant be required to legally use this info!

  6. >>>As for government snooping, we just need to continue to insist that a warrant be required to legally use this info!

  7. I don’t know much about technology, but would it be possible for a company to develop a “blocker” of some sort, so that you couldn’t be tracked and you could still use your cell phone?

    There are two kinds of location-based technologies for cell phones: network-based and GPS. With network-based technologies, there’s no way to keep the network from knowing your location. With GPS, it’s possible to set it up so that the network only knows when you make a specific request that requires the information (e.g. dialing 911, asking for a weather or traffic report). Sprint and Verizon are planning on using GPS, the others are using network-based technologies.

  8. “Yeah, because those are so difficult to obtain now…”

    Yeah, I’ve often wondered about that, but then, we’ve already been living in hell all along if that’s no safeguard.

  9. “Yeah, I’ve often wondered about that, but then, we’ve already been living in hell all along if that’s no safeguard.”

    At one point in time, getting a warrant meatn something, but after working in the criminal justice system, you see that judges just don’t give a shit anymore.

  10. Next time, take a sky-scraper’s elevator, climb on top of the flat roof, put some metal foil over your head, and toss your pen, wrist watch, and pants over the side.

    That’ll keep you safe.

  11. Teens could simply ignore the incoming text message, turn the phone off, or remove the batteries when “parking”. Adults could do the same when engaging in whatever activities it is that they are so worried about. What exactly are those activities anyway? Sodomy is legal in every state now, so that’s one thing to remove from the list (in the U.S. anyway). Buying drugs? Prostitution? Revolution? Skipping school? Does the govt secretly want to know who eats at McDonalds more than three times per week? This will be a real bummer when they perfect the invisibility ray – it’ll ruin the whole thing.

    ?????
    “For one, it seems that someone just needs to get their hands on your cell for a few hours in order to plant a permanent homing beacon on you”
    ?????

    I don’t see anything supporting the above statement in the article. Please post a link to another story if there really is some way that a “couple hours” time with someones phone can let you track them without them knowing it.

  12. Hey! Wacha talkin bout, man! Happin to me! Was away from my home for jes one hour, and dey cum in, change my pen, my watch, even ma belts and ma shoes! Ma celphone? Easy stuff, man!

    And all cause I wuz carryin sum package ah dint know anything bou.

    Since then, cant blame me fer bein’ mo parnoid, ya know.

  13. Luca Brasi,

    That’s interesting and sad, albeit not surprising.

    But I wonder, did you notice a change while you worked there, or are you assuming things were better in the past?

  14. fy odor, you need to listen better. “At one point in time, getting a warrant meant something.”

    Didn’t you read that?

  15. One of the cardinal libertarian traits is the desire to be left alone; the desire to be left in peace.

    It doesn’t make sense that just because I exchange my money for a gadget, that I then have to be followed all over creation, divulge my very life and soul — all because I bought something.

    “Excuse me, (drug-store clerk) may I have that [item] on the shelf behind you, please? How much is it? $39.00? OK, here’s the money.

    “Yes, Ma’m, but I also need your:
    +Social Security Number
    +Your Name
    +Your Address
    +Your blood type
    +Where you work
    +How much you earn
    +Where you shop for groceries
    +How many children you have
    +Whether you’ve ever been divorced.”
    +(Etc., etc., ad sickening absurdum)

    “No thank you, I’ll just keep my money.
    Goodbye.”

  16. “I don’t see anything supporting the above statement in the article.”

    You’re right; I had read it as a “blanket permission” system, rather than a case-by-case one. I’ve removed the erroneous line.

  17. Paranoia has got to be the least attractive trait of libertarianism, which has always seemed to me a product of a distorted sense of one’s own importance. Could it be that NO ONE MUCH CARES about your location, silly e-mail messages to your girlfriend, shopping habits, etc.? If you so fear being tracked by your cell phone, don’t use one; you’re free to do that, you know? Just as you are free to form your own little hunter-gatherer nomad society and subsist on grubs and tubers, or your own blighted medieval village (see also: Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of; see also: Cuba). Technology always involves trade-offs. Cope.

  18. “Paranoia has got to be the least attractive trait of libertarianism”

    not really a trait of libertarianism, actually an unattractive trait of some libertarians…

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