Few months back, I had written a post, “Looking for ‘yourself’ on the net” where I had analyzed how Google, even without a customized people tracker is still the best tool to track someone. But now, Google has released a software program which will let just about anybody with a cell phone or other wireless device find out instantly where they are. Other people can find out where they are too — say, parents who want to keep tabs on their kids. The program is an upgrade to Google’s mobile maps. It’s being marketed as a way to know exactly where you are and share your whereabouts with family and friends. Google’s product manager says it “adds a social flavor” to Google maps and makes them “more fun.”
Neatly named as Google Latitude launched Wednesday in 27 countries, including US & Canada, and will be available to anyone who has a mobile device that can run Google Maps for mobile. The service allows the user to automatically provide chosen family or friends with their current location.
It might be handy when people are:
- At a noisy, crowded event and want to find their friends without calling them.
- Passing through a neighborhood and want to see which friends might be available to meet them.
- At an out-of-town conference and want to see whether they know anybody there.
The accuracy of Google Latitude is similar and can range from a few meters to several thousand meters, depending on whether it can use a phone’s GPS capabilities or must triangulate based on information broadcast from cell towers or Wi-Fi access points. The service will run on Blackberry and devices running on Symbian software or Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Mobile. It will also operate on some T-1 Mobile phones running on Google’s Android software and eventually will work on Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iTouch.
What Google Latitude / People Tracker Means to your Privacy?
Many Privacy experts are warning users to make sure they’re aware of what it means to sign up. Google promises it won’t be retaining information on users’ movements. But still one must be aware of all the repercussions before using this service.
Privacy settings allow users to hide, lie
Well, the good (or bad?) news is that the Privacy settings allow users to hide, lie about their current location. The settings allow people to choose the level of detail they want to provide about their location, such as whether they only want to share the name of the city or pinpoint what intersection they’re at. Users can also hide their information, turn the service off temporarily or lie about their location by setting it manually.
Only a user’s current information is stored by Google, so she won’t be able to use the service to track where she or her friends were last week. Google has no plans at the moment to run ads on Google Latitude, but Google would not say whether it might do so in the future.
People might want to ask themselves about location-based services like Google Latitude:
- Who do I really want to share this kind of personal information with?
- Are there places I go that I don’t want my friends and family to know about?
- Am I going to remember to block my location every time I am somewhere or doing something that I don’t want them to know about?
- Is there a danger that people are going to make incorrect assumptions about what I’m up to — say, when I am sitting on a bench that happens to be outside a strip club or a public health clinic?
- Is it possible this information about me will be used for other purposes?
Ref: Wkrg News, CBC.ca