Thursday, January 04, 2007

Location based services

This article in BusinessWeek does a nice job of summarizing location based services. These are new in the US:
... providers of services that help wireless users track friends and loved ones are still finding their footing, Koenig says. Consumer applications, he says, are still in an experimental, "Wild West" phase. "Everybody's tweak is a bit different now." One version of mobile location-tracking applications is aimed squarely at young socialites. "As soon as you walk out of a class in college, people pull out their cell phones," says 21-year-old Sam Alton, who started Loopt last year while on leave from Stanford University's computer science program. "And the chief question they have for their friends in this scenario is, 'Where are you?' I just thought this should be automated."

Not surprisingly, there are concerns raised by this technology. David Holzman, a member of our board of visitors, is quoted in the article:
Privacy advocates say these services are susceptible to abuse. "Fundamentally you have to be concerned that all computer security can get broken," says David Holtzman, author of Privacy Lost: How Technology Is Endangering Your Privacy. "If one incident of child molestation occurred because of this technology, you can bet that all manufacturers would completely change what they're doing overnight."

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