Privacy

Their Eyes Are Watching Loopt

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Tired of calling your friends to find out their every move? Save youself the trouble by subscribing to one of several new services that take advantage of built in GPS to let you track others on your phone.

Because it's their job, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is a little worried:

"There are massive changes going on in society, particularly among young people who feel comfortable sharing information in a digital society," said Kevin Bankston, a staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation based in San Francisco.

"We seem to be getting into a period where people are closely watching each other," he said. "There are privacy risks we haven't begun to grapple with."

But, once again, lots of people's purchasing decisions seem to show that they're happy to swap privacy for convenience:

Kyna Fong, a 24-year-old Stanford graduate student, uses Loopt, offered by Sprint Nextel. For $2.99 a month, she can see the location of friends who also have the service, represented by dots on a map on her phone, with labels identifying their names. They can also see where she is.

One night last summer she noticed on Loopt that friends she was meeting for dinner were 40 miles away, and would be late. Instead of waiting, Fong arranged her schedule to arrive when they did. "People don't have to ask 'Where are you?'" she said.

More on the joys of buying in to Big Brother here and here.

NEXT: I Might Be Wrong

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  1. Fuck that. I guess I’m a Luddite.

  2. Fuck that. I guess I’m a Luddite.

    Yeah me too.

    People are choosing to pay a company to tell others your every move? No thanks.

  3. When parents figure out that this is available, being a teenager will be significantly less fun.

    That, or expect an entrepreneur to come up with “cell phone holding” stores in the mall where kids can drop off their tracking beacon and go elsewhere.

  4. I got a letter from Verizon telling me I had to get a new phone because my current one does not have GPS. Something about federal regulations and 911 calling…

  5. When parents figure out that this is available, being a teenager will be significantly less fun.

    What? You mean that tricks to block and trick GPS are not fun to you?

    Bet you are a lot of fun at the 2600 meetings! HA!

  6. Wait til Fong notices her boyfriend’s and best girlfriend’s dots appear to be together at a nice hotel/spa in the Napa Valley!

  7. Actually, it’s a B&B…

  8. Didn’t/Doesn’t Cingular/AT&T have a service like this, only you have to respond to the request in order to be located via GPS?

  9. Wait til Fong notices her boyfriend’s and best girlfriend’s dots appear to be together at a nice hotel/spa in the Napa Valley!

    “Why was your phone off?”

    “The battery went out. Yeah, yeah. That’s it.”

  10. Why would a self respecting, low life, disrepuable hound dog, e.g. A young me, want to broadcast their location? I can hear it now, “You were in the Wan Chai district at 2:00 am. What were you up to? I demand an answer!”

    Guys, get this service and you’ll regret it!

  11. Wait til Fong notices her boyfriend’s and best girlfriend’s dots appear to be together at a nice hotel/spa in the Napa Valley!

    That’s why people “forget” to take their phones with them…

  12. If such a service can be offered, does this mean that Sprint may have the record of where those people have been at all times there phone has ever been on?

    Thats an aspect of the wiretapping laws I had never even considered.

  13. Also, KMW,

    Zora Neale Hurston sucks. Hard. Like she sucks hoover hard. Please, never speak of her book again.

  14. http://www.phonetrace.org does it for free. And it is simple to use, kind of scary, stalking made easy. Seems to be an intersection of the right to privacy and free trade. Not sure how one resolves such a conflict.

  15. Another reason to hit my cell phone with a hammer.

  16. Well, there goes lying your way out of social engagements.

    Doesn’t that bother anyone else here?

  17. Thats an aspect of the wiretapping laws I had never even considered.

    As long as you’re not a terrorist you have nothing to fear.

    Local government has put GPS devices in their fleet of vehicles and gas use has plummeted.

  18. As long as you’re not a terrorist you have nothing to fear.

    Gee, I sure hope I’m not a terrorist… Never know these days…

  19. I’ve got no problem with this, so long as it’s voluntary. I wouldn’t use it myself, I’m old enough that it seems creepy. But if kids want to do it, that’s fine.

    What I object to are 1) the government requiring tracking capabilities; 2) companies not telling you about this; and 3) the inability to turn it off.

    But technology is a two way street. A website showing the current location of every congressmen would result in a quick solution. 🙂

  20. All those advantages of a light-weight phone are going to be lost when I have to keep it in a lead box.

  21. WARNING! FreedomFront’s link is fake. Not as bad as goatse, but still worthy of eyebleach.

  22. http://www.phonetrace.org does it for free.

    You son of a bitch. I forgot all about that.

    What’s next, links to goatse?

  23. Brandybuck,

    I guess I’m a slightly slower than you, but just as smart 🙂

  24. It’s a major shit in generational attitudes that is going to have a big effect on how we view civil liberties and privacy. If you grow up always knowing where your friends are, and they you, then it won’t seem objectionable for the government to know the same.

    On the plus side, it might help speed up the removal of vice laws and other laws that we tolerate because we can get away with them in the privacy of our own homes. If there’s no privacy, people might find themselves more opposed to drug laws for instance.

  25. Has the concept of privacy completely disappeared? Not broadcasting your every move or thought?

    I hate to use debit cards I’m so private. It’s just no one’s business what I do.

  26. I don’t feel quite as bad that I don’t use a cell phone now. They really should make this optional. I will be holding off that purchase of my own personal tracking device indefinitely

  27. I wouldn’t equate it with Big Brother as there’s no central controlling entity. I lean towards David Brin’s idea that we will all be little big brother’s- recording other’s behaviors’ around us. Keeping muggers and the police in their place.

    *If you don’t want to be tracked pull the battery.

  28. As a parent, I love this idea. I know it cramps thier style and god knows I didn’t have to deal with this crap. Too bad. Like I tell her all the time, “I’m dad, not your entertainment director.” I wish I could lock her in a room until she was 18, but I can’t. So this is the next best thing.

    I just noticed how very UNlibertarian I am when it comes to my child. Does that make me a hippacrit or just a bad speller?

    As an individual, this scares the freaking crap out of me. As long as there is a like a hardwired on/off switch ( that couldn’t be overridden with software), I’d be fine.

  29. I have a throw away phone that I bought with cash and get the fill-up cards (also with cash). The only people who have the number are those whom I want to have my number.

  30. Brandybuck and / or John-David – what was the link to, and what’s goatse?

  31. I eagerly await the feature that exposes the li’l ones’ adorable habit of driving-while-texting. Thumb screws would be an appropriate punishment. It’s not torture. It’s enhanced consequentiality.

  32. Andrew G.,
    It is a major shit in generational attitudes. MAJOR SHIT.

    BakedPenguin,

    What’s goatse? It’s bigger than a bread box….

  33. BakedPenguin,

    Something truly horrific. You really don’t want to know.

    …Ah, shoot, now you really want to know, don’t you?

    I, umm, was also curious what the link contained? Is a naked old lady? Does it involve fecal matter in some way? Inquiring minds and all that…

  34. Damn it! I’m at work, FF.

  35. Never mind, its just a .gif from a gay porn. Kinda ho-hum on the shock factor. Not to mention I’ve seen it already (The .gif not the porn!)

    If you want to see it, just put in a phone number to track.

  36. Free people may choose to do stupid things. That is a fundamental premise of libertarianism.

    And yes, there are valid arguments to be made that the only true protection from public (state) surveillance is private surveillance. It’s like the locker room at the gym, when everyone is naked, no one pays that much attention (the ones that do become obvious quickly).

    On the whole though, these “advances” depress me.

  37. “””If such a service can be offered, does this mean that Sprint may have the record of where those people have been at all times there phone has ever been on?”””

    If they store the data, then yes. The cell phone system must know what tower you are near in order to route the call.

  38. I have to say, I have little patients with luddite types who bemoan each new technological development, crying about how life will never be the same. Well of course it won’t be the same. That’s the whole point. Sure the kids now days won’t know that special relationship between a man and his horse but life moves on, get over it.

    Never the less, my metamorphosis into a geezer continues apace. I can live in a brave new world where everyone knows your name, and favorite book, and sexual preference, and current location. It’s all good. What I’m going to have a harder time adjusting to is a world where showing up late for appointments is socially acceptable.

    People who are perpetually late are a pet peeve of mine. Way I see it, being on time is just part of keeping your word. It’s a matter of personal integrity. A man that habitually keeps you waiting is a no account douche.

  39. “A man that habitually keeps you waiting is a no account douche.”

    Fine. See if I show up at all then to your Box Socials. hmph.

  40. I have to say, I have little patients with …

    So Warren, how’s the pediatrics business doing anyway?

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 😉

  41. Technology has also brought us spell checkers.

  42. I remember back in the day when I would accidentally turn people into hogs rather than dogs – now, with my MagicTron 3000, that’s a thing of the past!

  43. WARNING! FreedomFront’s link is fake.

    I was tricked by this, but that’s O.K.

    To know that a free cellphone tracing service does not exist is far more rewarding than the horror of a couple of swinging cocks.

    I did throw up in my mouth a little though…

  44. Technology has also brought us spell checkers

    Is “spell checkers” grammatically incorrect, unless yer Hermione?

  45. Don’t worry Troy,

    She may fail in her attempts to do naughty things when she’s

  46. Damn tags

    She may fail in her attempts to do naughty things when she’s not yet 18, but just wait for the stories from college…and the bills

    There!

  47. “Where you at, dog?”

    “I KNOW where you at!”

    God I hate those fucking commercials.

  48. But technology is a two way street. A website showing the current location of every congressmen would result in a quick solution. 🙂

    But there is no two way street regarding information in our country. MIT built Government Information Awareness (GIA) in response to our government’s highly egregious development of Total Information Awareness (TIA). The site worked great, began amassing scads of useful data about our elected officials, then it shut down without a whisper.

  49. I have a sprint phone. The menu gives me the option of turning off GPS any time I want, right there on my phone without calling sprint. easy peasy. Not exactly big brother.

  50. If you want to see it, just put in a phone number to track.

    Chancellor, k thx no. I figured it was something like that, which is why I asked the people who’d already been there.

    I remember being in the passenger seat of my friend car. He said “dude, check it out” as if there was a gorgeous woman walking down the street. I turned, only to see an obese elderly woman bending over to pick up her garbage can. He laughed – “she’s winking at you!” I could have gone my whole life without seeing that, and been okay with it.

  51. You spin me right round, baby right round, like a record baby…

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