Is the World Ready for Friend Tracking?

picture-41Google released a new product called Latitude this week to the moans and groans of numerous privacy organizations. The software detects a user’s location via the cell phone, and shares that information with select friends. Using the software, you could see your friends as photos overlaid on a map showing their current location. The Web site suggests that businesses can use the new tool to track employee movements around the world, country, city, or office. Journalist Ann All of ITBusinessEdge points out that location can be faked by users making people think that you are someplace else. She believes that the only business advantage the software provide is for marketing and advertisers.

For the most part the new software seems to be creeping people out. One consumer advocacy group describes latitude as a “gift to stalkers, prying employers, jealous partners, and obsessive friends”. Google has countered that it puts the user in control, with opt-in policies and robust privacy controls. Privacy International claims to have uncovered major security flaws in the software and considers the service to be more like phone tracking, than location sharing. It will be interesting to see how the Web 2.0 generation reacts to the new location aware technology.

Google launches software to track mobile users [Reuters]
Google Latitude Is for Business, if Your Business Is Advertising [ITBusinessEdge]
Google Latitude Spurs Privacy Backlash [Information Week]

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