Go Ahead, Just Try To Disappear
Global Positioning System (GPS)-equipped mobile phones and other devices are rapidly emerging as tools allowing people to track the whereabouts of truant children, spouses, workers, pets, and others, but some perceive such technologies as a growing threat to personal privacy.
“When a worker far away knows that every move they make is monitored by someone–without information about just what they are doing–it takes on a punitive sense,” notes Lancaster University management professor Lucas Introna.
SpyGear Store operator Greg Shields reports that women who suspect their husbands of philandering account for 60 percent of his business’s geolocation gear sales. Meanwhile, CMS Worldwide expects the number of new cars equipped with GPS navigation systems to increase from 3.9 million now to 6.5 million in 2008.
Cell phones with GPS debuted in 2001, when the FCC mandated that mobile phone carriers equip their handsets with geolocation technology in order to make 911 emergency calls easier to track; companies that opted for GPS are expected to have at least 95 percent of their subscribers converted to GPS phones by the end of next year.
James Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology believes that the commercial value of location services is so great that such services would spread even without a federal mandate.
Mark Frankel of the American Association for the Advancement of Science is troubled about the practice of tracking people without their awareness, even if it is for their own good; adolescents, for instance, could regard such a measure as a betrayal. Frankel also argues that privacy plays an important role in the development of people’s personality in their teens.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Los Angeles Times (12/27/04) P. A1; Colker, David .