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Privacy Group Calls Google Latitude a Real 'Danger'

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the no-latitude-for-latitude dept.

Google 227

CWmike writes "Privacy International is calling Google's new mapping application an 'unnecessary danger' to users' security and privacy. The criticism follows the unveiling this week of Google Latitude, an upgrade to Google Maps that allows people to track the exact location of friends or family through their mobile devices. Google Latitude not only shows the location of friends, but it can also be used to contact them via SMS, Google Talk or Gmail. 'Many people will see Latitude as a cool product, but the reality is that Google has yet again failed to deliver strong privacy and security,' said Simon Davies, director of London-based Privacy International, in a statement. The group's chief concern is that Google Latitude lacks sufficient safeguards to keep someone from surreptitiously opting into the tracking feature on someone else's device."

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first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26760335)

forst pist

Everyone focuses on the negative (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760337)

It's a rule. Whenever a change in the status quo is suggested people immediately jump to the most negative conclusions.

I remember, many years ago, my all knowing government banned "reverse lookup" electronic phone books, unless they had some restrictions in the code. Later, the products fells off the market as they were no longer useful. Before then, one could lookup the telephone number of their neighbor and give them a call if the "music" spewing out of their place at 3am was a bit loud. Now you just call the police or, gulp, go over there.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760369)

Ha, I just use their wireless network to open up word pad and type "TURN DOWN THE DAMN MUSIC" in 50 pt font.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (3, Funny)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760507)

Since nowadays the music is almost always a MP3, just produce a blue screen or kernel panic, and that'll quiet 'em down for a few hours, while Vista tries to boot back up.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (-1, Offtopic)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760985)

If its like the brand new Toshiba laptop I just purchased w/ Vista on it, just plug in a mouse.

Bam, instant BSOD.

When it happened to me, I was quite impressed as you can imagine.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (-1, Flamebait)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761137)

Yeah, cause Vista takes so long to reboot. It takes hours and hours and hours. That's so funny, because it's true. It really does take hours and hours and hours to reboot. Yeah, that's funny.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (0, Offtopic)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761409)

It takes even longer if you're careful to make sure just the right bits of the FS USN journal and other bits get messed up, so automatic chkdsk is necessary for the system to boot again, and so the takes a long time to run.

This often happens normally just by chance. Hours is a conservative estimate, it can be more now that larger hard drives and bigger filesystems are getting so popular

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761533)

I use my fiberglass handle 3" cable cutters, snip the conduit clean through right above the electric meter and the music will come down to acceptable levels. Warning, you will see really big sparks just before the fuses on the pole blow.

P.S.: If you use the wrong type cutter, you will simply die a very horrible death.

P.P.S: run fast afterwards and flip your main breaker to fake that you got hit as well. en flip it on saying it must have tripped your main when it happened.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760421)

Not to mention that any group called "Privacy International" might have a somewhat unrealistic view of how much of a threat this is.

Which is not to say they're wrong, just that often times interest groups like this overzealously reject things out of hand that they percieve to be a threat.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (5, Insightful)

Malevolyn (776946) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760465)

They're blowing it so far out of proportion that I'm going to go ahead and say they're wrong. People have the option of simply not using Latitude, not updating their location, etc. Crisis averted.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (2, Interesting)

nitroamos (261075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760685)

People have the option of simply not using Latitude, not updating their location, etc. Crisis averted.

that's not always true. i just served jury duty where the defendant was accused of using tracking devices and various technologies to be sure his daughter wouldn't talk about how she was being used as his sex slave.

i'm not saying this makes google's stuff bad, but certainly there are good and bad uses for technology.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760793)

i just served jury duty where the defendant was accused of using tracking devices and various technologies to be sure his daughter wouldn't talk about how she was being used as his sex slave.

Obviously the tracking devices themselves were not the real problem there. Almost anything can be misused.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (3, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761551)

Exactly. My wife and I and our friends use latitude. it's really easy to control your location.

Also by default it does not use the gps so it's always about 2500 feet off from where you really are.

Privacy international is simply trolling.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760499)

It just takes one or two persons to object. It's not like the rest of the people can say "oh, be quiet, that's not what this group is about."

Privacy groups take a primary interest in privacy, and they'll almost always object to any new technology with privacy impliciations.

It would be more newsworthy if a level-headed technology group not so focused on privacy, but that really represented consumers interests (of which privacy is just one consideration among privacy, safety, utility, convenience, accessibility to technology, etc), was objecting on serious privacy grounds.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (4, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760469)

If the government agencies and large corporations already knew everything that Google Latitude reveals, and they do, then I didn't lose any privacy. Neither did any of you. You can't lose what you didn't have.

What actually happened was, we just got brought into the loop. That's it, that's all.

If you think this is a bad thing, then it's probably time to grow some integrity and tell your spouse about your affair...

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (2, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760813)

If the government agencies and large corporations already knew everything that Google Latitude reveals, and they do

[citation needed]

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (3, Informative)

mweather (1089505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760915)

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761027)

That shows that the government can track individuals, not that they do so for people they don't suspect of terrorism or crimes.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (1)

weetabeex (1065032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761119)

Also, Google Latitude works in more places, besides USA, where the governments don't really have the will power (or the funds) to track individuals.

That said, Google Latitude may very well be used by said governments as a cheap(er) way to get the job done and, probably, without the need of a warrant whatsoever.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761525)

Actually, it shows that the cell phone companies can track individuals, and that the government is able to order them to do so on an individual basis.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760871)

If the government agencies and large corporations already knew everything that Google Latitude reveals, and they do, then I didn't lose any privacy.

Your bank and government know your financial information. So by your logic, it'd be ok for everyone else to know it too. Especially in conjunction with your Google Lattitude information.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760977)

Everybody who's ever done business with you knows something about you. They can and will make that data available to anybody who has enough cash for the list. They know what you buy at the grocery store and when. They know where and when you work, where and when you sleep, what websites you read and when, just about anything.

Eventually they put 2 and 2 together to get your complete life along with you patterns and your psychological profile. I would much rather give them the ability to know my location 24/7 via some icon on a map than have them know everything else!

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761165)

I would much rather give them the ability to know my location 24/7 via some icon on a map than have them know everything else!

And? I'd sure rather have someone cut my pinky off than slit my throat. But that doesn't mean those are my only choices.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (2, Funny)

Nethead (1563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761031)

Right now I'm one broke mofo. I pity the fool that tries to steal my ID. Now you have all my financial information that is relevant. Go for it. One way to protect against ID theft is to be cause the ID thief more harm by using your ID.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760955)

They know your GPS location every second of the day? Whoa, did someone embed a tracker when you were born? That must hurt when you do a MRI scan.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (1)

thepyro1 (994578) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761043)

With the G1 you have the option of using aGps so really it is the same as using the towers to triangulate your location which they can already do.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (2, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761457)

    This is different, but only slightly...

    In my case, I have a wonderful GPS equipped blackberry, with the GPS disabled by the provider. {sigh}. My "location" is determined by the tower that I an connected to, and my signal strength.

    As I found out by dialing 911 because I needed an ambulance where I was (long story, not a happy ending), even though GPS was enabled for emergency services in the configuration, they had absolutely no idea where I was. There was too much noise because of the road traffic, so all they knew is I had an emergency. I was on a long interstate, and was probably in their county, since the towers connect to the local emergency operations center. She never repeated back my location that I told her several times. She said someone would be on the way. 15 minutes later, no one had arrived. I opted to transport the person in my car instead. e911 is worthless. They don't really know where you are.

    What Google Latitude shows is my nearest tower, and a circle indicating where I might be, based on my signal strength, as detected on my phone.

    Whatever agency may be hunting you down (are you really paranoid?) gets either good coordinates if your phone provides it, or range around the nearest tower. Since it's provided by a non-governmental company, I'm sure they're happy to sell that information to whoever pays enough for it. It's not terribly accurate. Right now, it shows me within a 5 mile radius of the closest tower. I could be somewhere. There are only several hundred buildings to check in that area. Am I on the move? Maybe I'm in a car. Am I driving? Does the driver even know I'm laying in the back of his truck? Am I camped out on the back porch of an empty house? There are plenty of empty foreclosed houses these days.

    So, am I concerned about my privacy? Not really. A few friends have been added to my list. They're the same friends that I've told "Now you know where I am." I always tell them anyways.

    If some spooky agency wanted to pick me up, wouldn't it be a simple matter of checking the tax record, and finding where I work, or any of dozens of resources to find where I live? Most people are fairly predictable. They go to work in the morning. They come home at night. Occasionally they go out and do something else, but most people aren't paid enough to go out on a regular basis any more.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760801)

I think if you live in the UK -- as obviously this Privacy group does -- you might see the negative in anything that remotely looks like it might invade your privacy, because that is the daily norm in the UK. If you're being watched everywhere you go by security cameras, you are likely to be much more concerned than those in countries where that would be illegal. Especially when you can also be detained without charge in the UK for longer than anywhere in the western world, where the government wants to monitor all your internet traffic, and store your DNA on a national database. Among many other pieces of totalitarianesque legislation.

The other problem with this is one of desensitization. If it's ok for Google, friends and family to always know where you are. Maybe in 5 years fewer people have a problem when a government insists on always knowing where you are.

Those who are inclined towards fascism aren't going to declare it blatantly and change things in one big sweep. It's little steps, slowly and surely. Applications like this make those steps much, much easier to make. No one piece of the puzzle looks harmful by itself, and some minor good may come of it -- but when you thread it all together... good night and good luck!

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760889)

So your solution to avoiding a slippery slope into a totalitarian state is to restrict individual liberty.

Ya, that makes sense.

Individuals should be free to choose if they want to broadcast their location to anyone, or only to their friends.. sometimes or all the time.. the location they choose or a GPS location or an approximation of their location from WiFi towers.. etc. It's the individual choice that matters, not the technology. If you want to stop the slippery slope, stop people who are against individual liberty, not technology.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761065)

odd I consider rule number one to look at how you can abuse and misuse something and badly as possible and see if you still like it.

If people thought of that before passing laws like the DCMA, or patriot act, or unlimited warentless wiretapping then maybe the consequences would be known.

Re:Everyone focuses on the negative (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761139)

The vast majority of people don't do anything but that. Considering all the positive ways a particular technology can be used is left for the "technologists".

Tell me again (2, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760341)

How someone knowing where I am is particularly dangerous for me if I'm not in the witness protection program? If they're going to do anything worse than a drive-by waterballoon then chances are they wouldn't bother with latitude and just WATCH ME.

We've all said it before: obscurity is not security.

Re:Tell me again (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760387)

Security is about risk assement.
obscurity can be security, just not your only security.

For example, my car door is unlocked right now, can you break in to it? no, becasue it's whereabouts is current obscured from you.

Re:Tell me again (5, Funny)

jshackney (99735) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760705)

If I had to guess, somewhere in Portland?

Re:Tell me again (2, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761003)

If I had to guess, somewhere in Portland?

Oregon or Maine?

Re:Tell me again (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761585)

    Not really. Your trail isn't very hard to follow. You posted at 8pm on a Friday. You're probably not still at work. My guess is home.

    45.374226, -122.748914

    I'd come by and check, but it's a bit of a drive, and I'm not convinced that you're telling the truth about the doors. That, and all I'd really be there to do is lock them for you. Or, do you park in the garage? I'm not up for B&E just to see if you really locked your car doors.

Re:Tell me again (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760433)

Sorry for another post.

Stalker can watch you and wait for you to go to a specific place.
Someone investigating you can use your location to infer facts. Think divorce and child custody.
Some husband thinks you've been to chatty with his wife and want's to have a 'word with you'

Watching you means you might see them, or they take risks. Sitting in front of a computer lessons those risks.

Now, are these risks great enough to actually be a danger to more the 1 out of 100,000 people? Mu guess is no, but only time will tell. And yes, I hate using my intestines for a reference, but I am unaware of any actual data for this..if only there was a privacy group~

Re:Tell me again (5, Informative)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760697)

I played with it on my blackberry, its pretty cool. When I quit the Map App, it asks if I want to keep tracking on, or disable it. Also, you have to give people permission to see your location. I can't help but think of some handy uses for it, such as your meeting friends at the game, and don't know where in the crowded parking lot they are, or what bar their sitting in downtown, and your trying to join them. It would be a hell of alot faster than trying to talk someone all the way to my location.

I hate you and I want your money and your clothes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26760941)

So I'll wait until you're walking in a deserted area, and snag you. Normally I'd have to lie in waiting and hope you'd come by - remember that it is you specifically that I hate, other people's clothes wouldn't do. But now I can just follow you around virtually and when you're in a witness-sparse area I'll zip to your location and do my thing.

Re:Tell me again (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761111)

We've all said it before: obscurity is not security.

However obscurity IS crucial for privacy.

Well then, don't use the app! (3, Insightful)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760345)

But the people who would use this probably don't care about these things anyway. Or if they do, they'll turn off their phone.

Re:Well then, don't use the app! (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760961)

Or if they do, they'll turn off their phone.

Don't forget that the government can track you with your phone of- OH GOD THEY'RE HERE BRB

Frightening (2, Interesting)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760377)

I'm hoping that this is some sort of software that you'd install on the device (an app for iPhone, a java applet for most other things, etc). What other method does Google have to get the information? I'm assuming that the Latitude server is talking to some software on the device that can retrieve the relevant location data. I can see people writing modified versions of the Google software that *hides* and can be used as a covert tracking device, without the bother of contacting the person's cell provider. Frankly, the whole thing bothers me too, and not just in that theoretical kind of way that DRM does...

Re:Frightening (4, Informative)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760505)

This is exactly how it works: You install software on your phone. If you have physical access to someone's phone long enough to install the software, I think there are other far more malicious things you could do, like copy contacts and such.

Re:Frightening (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760629)

I guess it's more the idea of it that creeps me out than anything.

Re:Frightening (1)

smclean (521851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761517)

Or just install software that silently broadcasts the device's coordinates without a lot of pretty Google front-end.. Really, what people are claiming to be the "dangers" of this service seem to be already present in more dangerous forms on any device with a network connection and a GPS unit. The Bad Guys don't need Google to build all their tools for them.

Plenty of tin foil to spare (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26760397)

Hold on, I'm working on tin foil case for my cell phone!

I can't see how it's that dangerous (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760409)

And I was quite concerned too.

See, it isn't like Google is tracking people by asking the phone company to track your phone. They are just tracking people by giving them an app to run on the phone that reports its location periodically.

So given that you have to install an app on any phone that is to be tracked, it's unlikely someone could trick Google into tracking your phone. At least, not unless they have access to your phone to install the app.

Re:I can't see how it's that dangerous (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760455)

true, but people would be made consciously aware of the risk and think a little beyond 'cool app lets install it.'
I am not saying they shouldn't or should.

Re:I can't see how it's that dangerous (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761539)

Honestly, what the app *does* is report your position to your friends.

People are morons, but usually they don't intentionally install software that states its purpose without figuring out, at least accidentally, what its purpose is.

Re:I can't see how it's that dangerous (2)

Arcane_Rhino (769339) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760781)

I don't want to be tracked, not by Google, not by the Government, not by my spouse, not by my work. It is a violation of my existence. (Little v not capital V.) I don't want it. And, I don't want to have to explain to any of the above, in 15 or 30 years, why I am not SUBVERSIVE because I don't want to be tracked.

Oh, and I am a boring person. Anyone that knows me pretty much knows where I am at any moment. So realistically, it doesn't matter.

I just don't want to be tracked.

Re:I can't see how it's that dangerous (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761067)

So don't install the app. The article says the problem is you could trick Google into tracking someone who doesn't want to be tracked, but it's not true. They have to install the app.

I don't want to be tracked either, so I won't be installing the app.

Re:I can't see how it's that dangerous (0, Flamebait)

cathector (972646) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761231)

how many non-technical friends do you have who think getting their computer totally overrun with malware sounds like a pretty good idea ?

probably not many.

but how many of those non-technical friends have computers which are totally overrun with malware because they install shit willy-nilly ?

.. people are dumb, and lots of people will install this without thinking it through. so yeah, tier-one popular software providers [should] have an obligation to protect people from themselves. whether google's efforts in this direction with the software at hand fall short, as TFA suggests, i don't particularly know. but the argument "don't install it if you don't want it" isn't particularly germane.

Re:I can't see how it's that dangerous (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761359)

.. people are dumb, and lots of people will install this without thinking it through.

And how is it Google's fault that people are dumb?

Let's start addressing the real problem -- that of dumb people -- and stop trying to protect them from themselves.

Take another example: Teenagers are always posting shit on Myspace, Livejournal, Facebook, and everything else they can find. They aren't always obscuring their own name, meaning future employers can look them up this way. So is the right solution to "protect" these kids by blocking all access to social networking, or to block employers from using search engines to evaluate potential hires?

I have a better idea -- let's educate the ones we can, and let the rest suffer from their own mistakes.

Surreptitious? (5, Insightful)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760425)

If you're concerned about people doing things on your X, don't let them use your X.

Where X is:

  • Computer
  • Mobile Phone
  • Landline
  • Network
  • Private Key
  • Car
  • Bedsheets
  • Underwear
  • Camera
  • Sofa
  • Hot Tub

Pretty basic trust issues here, folks. If you don't trust someone, don't let them use your stuff.

Re:Surreptitious? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26760989)

If you're concerned about people doing things on your X, don't let them use your X.

Where by "people", you mean "Google", I take it.

No? Oh, well.

Re:Surreptitious? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761025)

What happens when they use your stuff anyway? I know that if I came home and found someone had broken in and used my stuff (eg, ate my food, slept in my bed, and walked off with my electronics, I'd call the police. Eventually the crooks would get caught. Sometimes the police even can trace back the crimes. I can do things (like keep the doors locked) to reduce the chances that someone breaks into my place. But the above "don't let people use your stuff" line is just bogus. If it is "surreptious". they didn't bother to get your permission first. Then your policy doesn't matter.

Re:Surreptitious? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761375)

What happens when they use your stuff anyway? I know that if I came home and found someone had broken in and used my stuff (eg, ate my food, slept in my bed, and walked off with my electronics, I'd call the police.

I think you just answered your own question.

I can do things (like keep the doors locked) to reduce the chances that someone breaks into my place.

And you can do things like keep your phone in your pocket, and not let people play with it. If it gets stolen, then they aren't tracking you, they're tracking the thief.

Re:Surreptitious? (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761573)

Where X is:

        * Computer
        * Mobile Phone
        * Landline
        * Network
        * Private Key
        * Car
        * Bedsheets
        * Underwear
        * Camera
        * Sofa
        * Hot Tub

Googling into someone's bedsheets and/or underwear and/or hot tub?
You my friend are a kind of visionary one can only expect to find on Slashdot.

I foresee great things in store for you should you patent that idea.

Danger! Danger! (5, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760429)

If I understand TFA correctly, if someone else gains access to your phone and your google login, they can activate Latitude and use it to track you.

Their interpretation of that is: Latitude is dangerous. I'd interpret it as giving others access to your hardware and your account is dangerous.

But that's why I'm just a computer geek and they're a multi-national organization.

Re:Danger! Danger! (3, Insightful)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760519)

I too think they are three marbles short. But I think the idea they are attempting to get across is less, "if we can get access to your phone, we can pwnt you." as it is "we think Google's made it so people other than those you've authorized can snoop that data once you've made it avaliable."

Not quite as hairbrained, but still rather "Get off my lawn"-ish given this group hasn't provided a wit of evidence that something like that can happen.

Re:Danger! Danger! (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760541)

I think the funny thing about privacy groups is that they're not in the business of acknowledging that less extreme viewpoints exist. So they don't even mention that Latitude gives you the option of setting who can see your location and who can't. If they acknowledged that then they might have to acknowledge that some people want everyone to know where they are and what they are doing. They might even find out that these people are in the majority.

Agree with you, the stupid are always in danger (1)

evil_arrival_of_good (786412) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760557)

Life is hard
Its even harder if you're stupid.

Re:Danger! Danger! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26760709)

I don't know about TFA, but it is clearly dangerous to privacy to proliferate tracking technologies into the hands of typical computer users.

People who don't feel concern about privacy don't realize (or care) that their choices often have unintended consequences for others of us who do care.

Just for example, a user with a gmail account accepts the potential risk to their privacy that comes with having google store their emails _forever_. But they also put at that same risk everyone who sends them email, without their informed consent.

Given recent government use in the US of privately stored data, it seems obvious that there is a slippery slope here, not just some cassandra wailing and arthritic get-off-my-lawn whining.

Consider too that most of the world lives in countries that are not as benign as we like to hope the US is.

Re:Danger! Danger! (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760943)

But they also put at that same risk everyone who sends them email, without their informed consent.

Nonsense. If you send an email without some sort of explicit contractual understanding , you implicitly forfeit any say over the disposition of the email. They can save it forever, they can forward it to another party (who in turn can store that email forever). They can post it on their website. And so on.

What I don't get... (5, Insightful)

SvnLyrBrto (62138) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760971)

So far as I can tell, Latitude is no different from Buddy Beacon, Loopt, Whrrl, or any of a dozen other GPS-enabled "social networking" apps that'll happily send out your location to whomever you allow. But Latitude, specifically, and apparently only Latitude, is evil and dangerous.

I know hating on Google is the trendy thing these days, but come on.

cya,
john

Re:Danger! Danger! (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761017)

What if you install it and only let your friends know where you are, and then someone steals your friend's phone? You're being tracked by some strangers without giving others access to your hardware.

Re:Danger! Danger! (1)

WillRobinson (159226) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761411)

Excuse me, but I didn't flail my arms on this one, and was quietly setting by the campfire and monitoring for hostiles too.

Move on, nothing here. You have more to worry about if your that paranoid that you cant control this application.

With all the phone taps, camera monitors, cell phone tracking by the government, you think you have to worry about your friends knowing where you are? I mean really, if I wanted to hunt you down, there are much easier ways, than coming and taking your cell phone, hacking the application on to it, then tracking you down later again?

Maybe their just drinking their own coolaid.

What a shocker! (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760431)

I figured a privacy group would say a product that tracks your position all the time would be a good thing, and a boon to humanity! That a privacy group would find it a "danger," that really shocks me to the core! Next thing you know, the NRA is going to start opposing gun control laws.

Solution (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26760451)

I have a solution. I have location off on my phone, and no intent of installing Google Latitude on it.

Plus, I have a Motorola W755 through Verizon with no data plan. :-)

Old news (1)

Radi-0-head (261712) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760539)

Yawn, Loopt has been doing this forever.

"Location" option (0)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760751)

You practically have to opt into this already. Every phone I've ever seen has TWO options for the GPS receiver: "Location on" and "911 only". MOST phones I've seen default to on. However, just change this to "911 only" and the phone's GPS only activates when you dial 911. Problem solved.

Re:"Location" option (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760973)

This isn't even about GPS. RTFA.

Danger, Will Robinson! (1)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760783)

Breaking News:

Since the launch of Googles "Latitude" program, murder rates have gone up 64% due to boyfriends and husbands tracking their girlfriends and wives and seeing they were actually with their best friends instead of "food shopping". Ouch, that's gotta hurt!

Back to you in the newsroom Willy.

Putting two Google stories together... (5, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760787)

Mash

"Recently announced Google Earth version 5.0 adds interesting new features like images of ocean floors and some detailed images of Mars."

up with

"...an upgrade to Google Maps that allows people to track the exact location of friends or family through their mobile devices."

plus a little hacking and amaze your friends and family as you wander along the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Do No Evil (0, Troll)

retech (1228598) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760835)

Just facilitate it more easily for others.

facilitating features for smart people (1)

evil_arrival_of_good (786412) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760881)

Facilitating features for smart people, facilitates threats for dumb people. Its a story as old as technology.

What I'd like to see (0, Offtopic)

Bin_jammin (684517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760851)

is an Assassin game based on this. Anyone else think that sounds like fun?

Only the Guilty and Sneaky.... (1)

Neptunes_Trident (1452997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760857)

My 2 cents... Only the people who have past/present guilt about hiding something from someone will feel this is a horrible idea. Remember, this is Opt-in folks. People in relationships, you all better wake up, your gonna have to be honest by choice or by technology. The choice is yours. Get over it. Me, I have no guilt, and if I change. (which I have) I know how to do so with honor and integrity by way of honesty and no patience for lies. (from myself or from anyone else) Control freak, perhaps, content and secure with my principals and practices, you bet! Good Luck.

Re:Only the Guilty and Sneaky.... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760979)

Since you don't feel guilt, you'd fall into the second category, sneaky.

Re:Only the Guilty and Sneaky.... (1)

Uthic (931553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760991)

Gee, that argument sounds really familiar, usually used sarcastically around this place.

Re:Only the Guilty and Sneaky.... (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760997)

'I have nothing to hide' is the great-grandfather of fallacious arguments. Your two cents and your post are similarly worthless.

Re:Only the Guilty and Sneaky.... (1)

Neptunes_Trident (1452997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761219)

I guess I hit a nerve here. Seems like it is better not to pull from personal experience. Maybe I should ask someone else to do my typing/thinking for me. Sneaky or Sarcastic, yes, I am and I take comfort in this, thank you. Fallacious argument, as I know myself, I absolutely disagree. And you missed the point, the point of this article. If you noticed this is about privacy concerns and I was simply making an assessment as to why some might have these concerns. So I called a few of these out. Which is far more effort than you put into this topic by the way. My error was boasting my own ego in front of everyone, however that does not devalue my views nor prevent me from expressing them, no matter what your opinion of a "fallacious argument" is. And the truth is I can't prove that to you and for that matter neither can you disprove me. Unless we are face to face. So try to stay on topic and not get to personal. But by all means, believe what you will.

Re:Only the Guilty and Sneaky.... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761449)

Only the people who have past/present guilt about hiding something from someone will feel this is a horrible idea.

So, it's your opinion that stalking should be OK. Got it.

I don't think I really have to say much more than that -- if there are any women on Slashdot who have been raped or abused, they'll likely tear you apart right about now.

Remember, this is Opt-in folks.

Yes, that is true. But that doesn't seem to be your argument...

People in relationships, you all better wake up, your gonna have to be honest by choice or by technology.

People in relationships should also trust each other enough not to have to use things like this.

The fact that you have nothing to hide doesn't in any way imply that you'd never want privacy. Consider the most basic sense -- I'm reasonably secure about my body, but that doesn't mean I'm inviting people to set up a shower cam.

Nor does wanting to hide something imply that there is something shameful to hide. The simplest example there would be a surprise party. The more frightening example is when people really are after you -- witness protection exists for a reason.

Now, if you've opted in, fine. But what you seem to be implying here is that no one should ever have a reason to opt out, and you're flat-out saying that the only reason to ever want to hide is guilt, and that is simply not true.

kiddy track (2, Funny)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26760933)

think of the children?

Sounds familiar. (1)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761009)

1984, Big Brother is calling.

Anyone who thinks Govts. around the world won't try to get and abuse this info is a fool!

I'm a danger to others (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26761057)

I enabled Gears in FF to track my laptop by available wifis (the three options are that, phone, or manual update). According to earlier today, I was in Manhattan. Currently I appear to be in Maryland.

In reality I haven't left Minnesota. My poor stalker is going to snag the wrong girl!

how is this any.... (1)

metotalk (168817) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761069)

How is this any different then say loopt or other apps like this that are all ready out? Because every watches what Google does and picks it apart. But does not look to see if any one else has all ready done it.

save the adults! (1)

powerspike (729889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761081)

Unless google is going to send you an sms every 5 minutes stating your been tracking, i see a non issue with this. If someone can get to your mobile and enable it, without you know, then that is your problem, not Google's or anybody else's, From what i can see is that the app needs to be updated by the user and there are some time of reminders.

This is going so over board, it's really not funny. The General public reads articles like this, think it's blow out of proportion and aren't going to take anything similar as serious as they should, that really hurts ALL of us.

You are *now* worrying about privacy? (1)

pirot (894930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761197)

I am getting tired of hearing all these comments about loss of privacy, big brother, and other nonsense.

I installed the application. You have to actually give explicit permission to your friends in order for them to track you. Furthermore, for this to work, your friends should actually care to actually follow the instructions from Google, go through a set of menus, so that they can see where you are.

Apart from my mother when I was 12, I cannot think of anyone that would actually care to know where I am, 24/7. I am pretty sure that I do not care to know where even my closest friends are right now. They may be at home, at work, with their wives, with their mistresses, buying pot, or selling dirty bombs to arab terrorists. I do not care. And I am sure they think the same for me! Damn, I am not *that* important so that others need to know where I am!

Yes, it would be convenient to know where my friends are when I am trying to meet them. If they could send me an "sms-like" message with their location. But do I *need* to know where they are, 24/7? Hell no!

And to whomever worrying about privacy: You got a cellphone (so the cellphone carrier knows where you are by triangulation). Oh no, you actually got a smartphone, with an embedded GPS! (So, a hacker can install an application that sends an sms with the long/lat.) Ah, you also have a wi-fi! (So a hacker can stream the info easier.)
I see, you also installed the Google Maps application! And since you wanted to see how this Latitude things works, you also installed the latest version of GMaps? And you are *now* freaking worrying that a hacker will get your phone, and enable tracking??

Almost like being afraid of malaria and visiting malaria-infested areas during the rain season!

here's an awesome use case (1)

cathector (972646) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761265)

say i hang out with Suzy a lot,
and my wife thinks we're just friends but we're actually banging all over town,
and one evening Suzy and i go to Power Exchange as usual,
but unbeknownst to me she's made herself wildly trackable online,
and my wife idly discovers we weren't at the weekly meeting of the cartography association as i'd so conveniently had her convinced.

obviously this is far-fetched, since everyone knows it's bad form to have an affair with the indiscreet, but it illustrates the point. think about all the times you've been somewhere with someone when the fact of your being together isn't a secret, but your location should have been.

Sexy time! Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26761287)

Sounds like Simon Davies has himself a call girl on the side. And he don't want no one to know where he be.

Not scary yet (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761289)

When Google Longitude comes out, then you can be really scared.

The abuse potential (1)

apederso (619173) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761303)

I think that the problem for me is the abuse potential here for controlling partners and parents. Making people install and use it. Sure, there were tools that would do this before, but nothing so cheap (free) and ubiquitous as this. What is you teenage daughter going to say to her controlling potentially abusive boyfriend when he guilts her into installing it and demands she leave it on? The problem isn't with the product it is with us, people, and not enough time to work out what to do with it to be responsible.

RTFA??? !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26761341)

DID anyone here actually RTFA ?? Latitude s entirely opt-in, that is no-one may track a persons location unless that person loads the application in their phone, turns it on, and updates thier location information. Essentially unless someone actively announces "HERE I AM" then this service does have a location. So it would appear that Privacy International s trying to get some traffic from a non-story. FOAD!

Windows, curtains. (1)

Ranzear (1082021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761343)

I would equate the 'privacy invasion' of Google Latitude to having windows in your home. Leaving your curtains aside can let the neighborhood peep see your skivvies, but its still your prerogative to close them when you don't want to be seen.

Obviously windows are a dangerous privacy risk that leads to a totalitarian state, and we should all be housed inside metal cubicles to protect our personal lives.

GPS Tracking software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26761387)

The argument here is the mere existance of an application like latitude is a privacy issue because it can be installed without someone else knowing.

Newsflash -- this particular cat got out of the box many many many years ago so it makes very little difference one way or another if more companies offer the same service.

This kind of software has been around for quite some time -- some make a real effort to hide themselves and make it extremely difficult to remove or detect. Google shows up in the task manager process listing and Add/Remove programs.

Hahah (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761417)

They're just now cluing in that this is an 'unnecessary danger'? As if the /other/ services dont give google a goldmine of information for unrestricted use? No, no, this ONE it's just too much, right?

Ridiculous. As always - if you don't like the inherent privacy risks, don't use it. And leave alone the people who do want to use it - and those who provide the service.

Privacy advocates becoming what they hate most... (1)

thepacketmaster (574632) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761485)

and that is People-that-tell-us-what-to-do. Privacy advocates are so worried about being told what they can and can't do, but they want to tell us that we shouldn't use Latitude. I hate to break it to them, but this is isn't the first GPS tracker available that tells your friends where you are. I use one to let people know where I am on my solo motorcycle rides, so they don't worry. When I get home I turn it off. Simple and my privacy isn't violated. These guys spend so much time troubling over the slightest little things because they think people are idiots. Well if an idiot uses this incorrectly and his/her privacy is violated then just tell them RTFM.

Oh good grief... (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 5 years ago | (#26761515)

Instead of going after the headline companies for minimal issues, the efforts of the so-called privacy group would be far more beneficial to all, if they did things like prevent state governments from putting personal information on the web. Or stop the feds from listening in on our communications.
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