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Google Businesses The Internet Privacy

Google Maps To Add 'Friend' GPS Tracking 259

Henway writes "Google is adding the option to Google Maps to place your whereabouts either via cell phone towers or GPS. Think 'locator beacon.' Paraphrased: This would be good for people wanting to let their friends know where they are or for parents wanting to know where their children are at all times."
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Google Maps To Add 'Friend' GPS Tracking

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  • by Sax Maniac ( 88550 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:01PM (#26728231) Homepage Journal
    Sorry, I already have this. I just log into my bank account's website, look at the recent charges, and that tells me where my wife is.
    • by von_rick ( 944421 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:32PM (#26728615) Homepage
      But does it tell you who she is with? Now if you were tracking your best friend AND your wife, you'd know why those things listed in your account statement never show up at your house.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ani23 ( 899493 )
        i don't charge her for the services man. so ur outta luck
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @05:38PM (#26730035)

        "if you were tracking your best friend" ... and in time, if most people tracked their best friends (and family), then Google would literally have the power of Big Brother to monitor the movements of almost everyone. Sounds exactly like they want to play the six degrees of separation game.

        This also sounds like a dream come true for the world's governments (who do get data from Google). (Plus even if it just grew over a few years until it was say 10% of the population they tracked, there is huge statistical value in approximating the movements of that many people).

        But anyone signing up to this or signing up their friends better be careful they don't visit any part of a city while a government protest is going on (or even visit the home of someone who was at a government protest, or even visit someone who was friends with someone who was at a protest).

        People in power get into power because they seek power over others and they are constantly seeking ways to gain power and influence over others. (Their greatest fear is the loss of power and they spend sometimes decades learning how to gain power and influence over others). The simply act of seeking power over someone else is to seek to dictate terms to that person. That is why democracy is constantly undermined and why democracy has to be defended by each generation. Just because we have democracy now doesn't mean we keep democracy as there are people who seek to undermine it for their own gain. Ironically it is the very nature of seeking power over others that undermines democracy. So they end up distorting the society they control out of all proportion until their minority in power can control, manipulate and dictate whatever they want for their own gain.

        People in power don't care about individuals but they do care about controlling and manipulating groups of people (as groups of people can stand against governments points of view). But before they can manipulate and influence a group, they need to profile everyone into groups, to then know how and where best to apply their influence. Ultimately they wish to play a divide and conquer game to undermine any group which can stand in the way of their goals. So they end up continuing to bias laws and controls in their favor, until the society they control is a nightmare vision for the majority of people in their control.

        Knowledge is power and this new move by Google is a level of power way beyond the capabilities of any government in history. If the majority of people fail to learn from the mistakes of the past, we are all doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. Knowledge is power and people who seek power see a book like 1984 as something that is good, as they are the ones who seek to control and use that level of power over others for their own gain. The people who seek such power never see their own actions as wrong, as they are too busy seeking power over others and ignoring anyone who suggests they cannot have ever more power.

        We all need to stand up and speak out against moves like this before the level of control is so great that no one can speak out, for fear of what the people in power will be able to do to anyone standing up and speaking out. Democracy has to be defended by each generation and the more this level of power grows, the more we are all going to be forced by their actions to stand up and speak out against the ones who seek such power over everyone.

  • by mnslinky ( 1105103 ) * on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:02PM (#26728237) Homepage

    How the article reads:

    This would be good for people wanting to let their friends know where they are or for parents wanting to know where their children are at all times.

    What it really means:
    This would be good for girlfriends wanting to know where their boyfriends are or for parents wanting to know where their children are at all times.

    • by pm_rat_poison ( 1295589 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:06PM (#26728291)
      Don't kid yourself. The women who know where their men are are called widows.
    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:14PM (#26728389) Homepage Journal

      We didn't even have cell phones when I was a teeneger. Of course, there were no child molesters or terrorists. All we had to fear was Russia throwing nukes at us.

      Yes, there were probably as many pederasts as today, and anyone in Great Britain knows there were terrorists then, but the media didn't hype them like they do today. I'd bet kids are SAFER now than we were then, but you wouldn't know it from the mainstream media.

      • by Chabo ( 880571 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:38PM (#26728691) Homepage Journal

        I'd bet kids are SAFER now than we were then

        You're very right. []

        • by blueg3 ( 192743 )

          Penn and Teller: a reliable source of statistical information!

          • by Chabo ( 880571 )

            They hardly ever give statistics themselves, they leave that to the experts who come on the show. :)

            As Penn says -- "We may be biased as fuck, but we're fair."

            If you want more information, it's up to you to do more research; they have to squeeze all that into a 1/2 hour show.

          • So where's your proof it's not true?

            Considering how much the media loves pedo stories you sure don't see too many in the news.

            Secondly it's statistically more likely to be a family member or someone close to the kid that molests them. So the last thing you should be doing is locking the kid up in the house around its family members.
            • by blueg3 ( 192743 )

              I didn't say it wasn't true. Whether or not the final conclusion is correct or not is independent of the quality of statistics from a comedy duo.

          • by Pentavirate ( 867026 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @06:21PM (#26730479) Homepage Journal
            I watched the preview and it shows a woman arguing that there is an equal chance of being struck by lightning as being kidnapped (non-family). A little research shows that:

            * You have a 1 in 560 chance [] of being kidnapped by a non-family member and of those 1/5 will be murdered.
            * You have a 1 in 280,000 [] chance of being struck by lightning.
            * You have a 1 in 100 [] chance of dying in a car accident.

            While the lady in the video was grossly overestimating the chances of being struck by lightning, there may not be much cause to freak your kids out about "stranger danger". They need to know the information and how to protect themselves, but they definitely shouldn't be made to be hermits and more than they shouldn't be prevented from riding in cars.

            One thing is for sure, though. Don't get your statistics from Penn and Teller videos.
            • by clong83 ( 1468431 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @07:31PM (#26731219)
              From your link on kidsfightingchance, I was able to calculate: 11.4 out of 1000 kids are reported missing each year, which comes out to about 800000 cases. Of those, 69000 are actually abducted. Of those, 18% are by non-family. Of those, 37% are by non-friends. The way I crunch the numbers...

              11.4/1000 * 69/800* .18 * .37 = 0.0000654

              Or,about 1 in 15000 chance of being abducted by a stranger. Even if you go non-family only, it's only about 1 per 10000... Where did you get 1 in 560?? Granted, it's nowhere near the remoteness of a lightning strike, but the odds of an abduction by a non-family member are remote at best.
            • by Ironica ( 124657 ) <{pixel} {at} {}> on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @07:44PM (#26731375) Journal

              Nor should you get your statistics from websites that, on the very same page, list conflicting data:

              Of the 800,000 children reported missing annually, approximately 69,000 are abducted:
              Family members account for the majority of these reported cases (82 percent)
              Non-family abductions account for 12,000 of these reported cases (18 percent)

              Farther down on the same page:

              Each year 3,600 to 4,200 children are abducted by someone outside the family; 1/2 of them are age 12 or older; 2/3 are female; at least 19% of these abductors are not strangers to their victims-Finklehor, p. 10. *The chance of a minor being kidnapped by a stranger is 1 in 560, by a family member 1 in 180. - Discover Magazine as reported by Gannett News Service 5/28/96.

              Now, if you take that 12,000 number, multiply it by 18 (years of childhood), and then take that result (216,000) and determine the percentage that represents of the child population in the US (82,457,018... I grabbed a number off the Census website that's for the 2007 American Community survey, but I had to total up percentages of population by age group and then take that percentage of the total population), you get about a .26% chance of being kidnapped by a stranger... but 1 in 560 is more like .17%. And the ratio of those two percentages don't match the annual statistics, where one lists a number that's 3-4 times as high as the other. Notice that the much higher number is listed prominently at the top of the page, without a footnote as to the conflicting measures from other sources.

        • You mean Great Britain already faced terrorists and it ended without having to sign away all our rights a mandatory 28 day lock-up when your reach 18? And you best not be trying to suggest that the gps-tag i got for my child wont protect him as most child molesters are known family & friends! LIES ALL LIES

      •     At any moment, the reds will try to invade us, and this will become the Soviet State of Amerika []!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Since using GPS in this way can be a contentious issue, Google have given Latitude users the ability to restrict location information on a contact-by-contact basis; alternatively it will let you enter a false position manually

      --AndroidCommunity []

      I wonder what they mean by "false position" exactly.. hmm.

    • by Haoie ( 1277294 )

      Good for all you stalkers [and part time stalkers] out there too. Woot.

    • This would be good for girlfriends wanting to know where their boyfriends are or for parents wanting to know where their children are at all times.

      Because we ALL know there are no obsessive, jealous, and insecure males of the species, right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:02PM (#26728245)

    Sounds remarkably similar to the services offered by Brightkite [].

  • Sweet! (Score:5, Funny)

    by eln ( 21727 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:04PM (#26728255)

    Oh man, I hope my girlfriend gets on this! It will make it SO much easier to track her. I am so sick of hiding in the bushes across the street from her house for three hours just to find out she wasn't even home! And this is going to save me a fortune on text messages...I won't need to text her every 3 minutes asking where she is if I have Google Maps to tell me!

    Seriously, this is going to revolutionize our relationship. I know we're going to be so happy with this new tracking technology! The restraining order says no, but your Google Maps icon says yes!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Theaetetus ( 590071 )

      Oh man, I hope my girlfriend gets on this! It will make it SO much easier to track her.

      Funny, but you raise an important point... This could be used by abusive spouses to keep tabs on the other person, particularly because there doesn't seem to be a "keep my location here no matter where I go" - so turning it off or setting it to the city-location mode could trigger angry accusations.

      • Re:Sweet! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fracai ( 796392 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:36PM (#26728675)

        Because clearly there wouldn't have been any pre-existing problems in such a relationship.

        It's like Science Fiction. It's not really about the technology; the tech just provides an interesting framework to examine the real issues.

        • It's like Science Fiction. It's not really about the technology; the tech just provides an interesting framework to examine the real issues.

          That would make a great signature for email, or for the issue tracker at work for that matter.

      • It is possible to set your location by hand, and tell Maps to never update automatically. I'm not sure if it allows you to set separate locations for different people, but there's nothing stopping you from making a "safe" account and a "real" account

      • by makapuf ( 412290 )

        leave your phone to a friend/leave it at home.
        don't answer phone or redirect line to your secret phone. solved. (in a "geekier than you" way, that is)

  • Abuse (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Does anyone see the irony in allowing a 3rd party to keep sophisticated data on your and your friends' whereabouts? Given the government's predilection for snooping [] and the current lack of openness [] in government, it seems somewhat frightening to allow even the overly-beloved Google this sort of power over your friends.
    • Re:Abuse (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:15PM (#26728395) Journal

      I'm not sure about the irony, but for $15/week, I'll feed and care for your phone, take it everywhere with me. I even promise not to take it to any meetings of subversive groups, or atheist meetups.

      The government will be happy that you are an active social part of society, and you can rest assured that your privacy is perfectly secure.

      In fact, your tracking data will look exactly like that of 17 other lucky folks who have signed up before all the openings are gone. I just have one space left, so hurry. If you call in the next 10 minutes, you'll also receive photo frame skin for your other phone that holds a picture of the tracked phone so that you'll never miss it, normally a $29.99 value, but you'll get it absolutely free.

      Sign up now, hurry, available spots are going fast.

  • by Bruiser80 ( 1179083 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:07PM (#26728293)
    when I get a phone call or text message from my wife, I have to drive back to work before answering it and giving her my location? Awesome. The bar won't be happy :-)
  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz ( 883997 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:09PM (#26728325)

    As long as my wife doesn't use it to track my girlfriend. Then I'd be really f00ked.

    • As long as my wife doesn't use it to track my girlfriend. Then I'd be really f00ked.

      In which case, the girlfriend will be redundant, so it's all good, right?

  • My hobby (Score:2, Funny)

    by godrik ( 1287354 )
    drawing smiley on google maps with my friends and our GPS
  • Here: []

    Could be useful for companies who are looking for cheap geolocation of, say, their truck, service engineers...

    Google maps works well for me with GPS and surprisingly well just using tower triangulation...just wish it had 'turn by turn' voice direction for when I'm driving.

    I'm sure others here will discuss the privacy concerns better than I could.

  • Can I have my location copywritten? I want NO ONE to have access or the right to use my location in any manner without my explicit approval. Feds and local law enforcement included.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Can I have my location copywritten?

      Well, you can write a copy of your location but you can't have it copyrighted any more than you can copyright your phone number. So, no. Sorry.

      • by makapuf ( 412290 )

        however, it can be noted that copy detection will be quite easy. "Why are you following me?"

    • Can I have my location copywritten? I want NO ONE to have access or the right to use my location in any manner without my explicit approval. Feds and local law enforcement included.

      "Copywritten" is the past participle of "copywrite", a verb meaning to compose text for an advertisement []. This has nothing to do with "copyright", a verb meaning to secure exclusive rights in a work of authorship. Besides, your location isn't a work of authorship, so you can't copyright it either.

      That said, local privacy law may give you some rights to exclude use of your location. Case law in the United States, for one, recognizes privacy rights based on the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. But still, based

  • Prior Art (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Detaer ( 562863 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:15PM (#26728405)
    There are many applications that do this for people already. I would rather go out of my way to turn this functionality on, rather than go out of my way to turn it off.
    • Re:Prior Art (Score:4, Informative)

      by dino2gnt ( 1072530 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:22PM (#26728479) Homepage
      Good thing that Latitude is entirely opt-in and not opt-out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MozeeToby ( 1163751 )

      1) Where does it say that this is in any way, an opt out feature?
      2) What does Prior Art have to do with anything? The article isn't 'Google patents putting dots on map' its 'Google is implementing such and such a feature'.

    • As an opt-in feature by all parties, it has its uses so long as you don't mind the loss of privacy among your friends (and only them).

      Maybe I want to hang out with some pals, perhaps to go bowling or see a film in a couple of hours.

      I hop on and see which of my friends are home or at least in the general area before calling; if it looks like someone's too far to make it (like the next state over) then they're obviously not worth calling.

      Then again, even with opt-in there are a lot of negatives; almost too ma

  • by tsa ( 15680 )

    With friends like that, who needs enemies?

  • by Rob Riggs ( 6418 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:26PM (#26728537) Homepage Journal

    Who needs friend tracking? What we need is Foe Tracking (tm).

  • by professorguy ( 1108737 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:32PM (#26728607)
    Google claims that the tracking client has the ability to lie--that is, report your location as an address you type in. Problem is, if your boss is tracking you to an address, he'll know you're lying because you instantly appear at the destination.


    So the first thing we need is a google application that can update this "lie" info in real time. I want to type in a start address, an end address and have it automatically update the lie with intermediate locations that correspond to a realistic speed. Then even if your boss is watching you, it'll look like you are following instructions (even though you are at the bar).

    That way, when it is inevitably used by assholes, we can salute and chime "Sure thing, boss!" then ignore him with impunity.

  • FTA:

    There are no current plans to sell any advertising alongside Google's tracking service, although analysts believe knowing a person's location eventually will unleash new marketing opportunities.

    C'mon, Google income is totally based on advertising. You know they're going to use the info somehow. Maybe they won't advertise alongside the tracking service, but their other services may offer more intelligent ad targeting based on your location.

  • According to [], you can spoof your own location by setting it manually, so I don't see how this can be used for tracking someone who didn't want to be busted.
  • Google sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Murpster ( 1274988 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:46PM (#26728815)
    This company is beginning to honestly frighten me. I was a fan when they were an up & coming search engine, but I started to get concerned about the near monopoly they're getting in search... and the tentacles are spreading. Gmail, Google Maps, AdSense, Android, Analytics... now this crap? I think it's time for me to begin using alternatives.
    • by ivoras ( 455934 )
      One good think about Google is that it is not a monopoly. Though it has a bunch of cool gadgets, in no way is their usage required for anything at all. They remain just optional gadgets.
  • G1! No! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:51PM (#26728863)

    I find it odd that it'll work on Blackberries and other phones, but not the G1 phones yet. Must have been something that's been in the works for a while and they haven't had time to rework it for the G1.

    The G1 actually already has an app (on the market, Locales I think it is) that will watch your location and enable and disable features on the phone. I use it to set my phone on vibrate at work automatically, and turn it back on afterwards. It turns my Wifi on at home and off everywhere else.

    It shouldn't be too hard to make another app that replicates the 'friend gps tracking' functionality on the G1. And if you lose your phone, you know where it was last time it was on. :D

  • by aquatone282 ( 905179 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @04:00PM (#26728975)

    I doubt my parents would have been happy to discover I was in the Downtowner buying cigarettes instead of third period social studies. . .

  • APRS (Score:4, Informative)

    by autocracy ( 192714 ) * <> on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @04:06PM (#26729031) Homepage

    It saddens me that none of you have mentioned APRS []. It's a long-standing and open protocol for doing positions reporting.

    Slashdot needs more HAMs. ~KB1PNB

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      I used APRS but stopped since so few people I knew were using it.
      I was only the third person in SE Wisconsin.
      And the punchline is that was in 1992, only 17 short years ago.

      Google is using their elite area 51 UFO technology to build a time machine?

      A year ago I tried APRS again and was fairly shocked at seeing at least a hundred folks on in my area...

      de N9NFB

    • by n6kuy ( 172098 )

      Packet radio completely dead where I live.

    • by Nethead ( 1563 )

      Here in the Puget Sound area the digipeaters are so busy that APRS gets hard to use. Now our club is putting up a D-Star system.

      fb om 73 de w7com k (and those kids think they invented txtspeak!)

  • by piltdownman84 ( 853358 ) <> on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @05:04PM (#26729643)
    There is alot of people who will just love this. We all know the type. They are the same type who change their facebook status 50 times a day, and twitter about every stupid thing they do. The ones that think everyone cares they are catching a bus to the grocery store, or getting off said bus, or debating what type of juice to buy at grocery store, or almost done shopping at grocery store or ... no I still don't fucking care.

    Alot of people don't want privacy, they want the opposite, and they will love this.
  • [] will do this right now. It uses either cell tower triangulation or a GPS if your phone has one, and places it on a Google Map.

  • The old trick (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chord.wav ( 599850 ) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:30AM (#26735997) Journal

    The old "parents wanting to know where their children are" trick!

    It wouldn't surprise me if media suddenly start to emphatize missing child cases...

    What would you be teaching to your kid if you did that? Only that it is OK for an authority to know where they are/what they do, anytime... You'd be stripping away their right to privacy before they realize how important it is.
    If I need to hear from him, I'll just call him.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN