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Lack of Latitude for Google Latitude Gets Laughable

Trojan Horse (2)Trojan Horse: GoGap via Flickr

There&;s a lot of buzz right now about Google Latitude, the new location-based service where you opt in to the service, select which friends you&39;re connected to, and then have it automatically update your location. I admit that there&39;s a creepy factor here, and that most people will not want to let most other people know exactly where they are at any given moment.

Yet in today&39;s MediaPost, the concerns get SO overblown that it&39;s making me think Latitude&39;s not such a bad idea after all:

"As it stands right now, Latitude could be a gift to stalkers, prying
employers, jealous partners and obsessive friends," Simon Davies,
director of Privacy International, said in a new report.

…Privacy International says the system has a design flaw: Other
people can get their hands on users&39; phones, and then change the
settings. For instance, the group said, a phone left in a repair shop
could be secretly enabled. Or someone could give another a
Latitude-enabled phone as a gift.

So basically, the concern is that these phones will be turned into Trojan horses. And the concern&39;s not with the software, it&39;s with the hardware.

It&39;s quite possible that Al Qaeda could come into your office, take your phone while you&39;re in the bathroom, turn it into a bomb, and make it explode when you walk into a shopping mall. But if the real concern about Google Latitude is some doomsday scenario a la Arlington Road, then maybe we can focus on more serious threats.

I do think Mr. Davies of Privacy International has had some REALLY bad cellphone repairmen.

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Comments to: Lack of Latitude for Google Latitude Gets Laughable
  • February 6, 2009

    Google couldn’t have predicted that there would be a lot of press right now on the scary “your cell phone is listening to you” products, such as Flexispy (Google them to read their value prop).
    So here we have someone depicting as scary a cell phone that exposes your locale when you choose to have it do so, just because someone else could set this up without your knowledge. Don’t they know this can be done just as effectively, a with a lot less hassle, for about $200? They would just buy and secretly place a Zoombak GPS dog tracker on the unsuspecting schmo.
    Part of this is the expected fear of the new. The first telephones had human operators, and many refused to discuss anything on them of any significance because of this possible privacy breach. “Mabel could be listening in!”

    Reply
  • February 7, 2009

    It is actually amazing to think how phones once had built-in eavesdroppers,
    and now we’re so paranoid about the imaginary ones. Maybe we’d all be better
    off if there were real people we knew who were stalking us.

    Reply

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