Businessweek Archives

Google Latitude: Teens will be tracked first


My Blackberry’s hard at work as I type, downloading and installing Google’s new location app, Latitude. Plenty of folks are writing about it.

There’s going to be plenty of hand-wringing about privacy. But I have a Twitter search the subject, and people are rushing to download latitude. It’s our choice.

But the people who will not have a choice, I’m betting, are our children. Within a year or two, millions of parents will have their children’s own whereabouts pulsating on a screen. And kids will come up with all kinds of ways to slip the surveillance, whether it’s simply leaving the phone in a school locker or turning it off (the way we used to when batteries died daily).

And once we have our kids under surveillance, we’ll move on to our aged parents. (I write about that in the patient chapter of my book.)Sometime during this process, most of us—some for convenience, others for safety—will agree to be tracked ourselves. And marketers will feast on rich new flows of data describing our wanderings, our lives and interests.

(Incidentally, my version has downloaded in the time it took to write this post. It has my blue dot blinking at the corner of 47th and 6th Ave, a block south of my actual location. If my boss at BusinessWeek saw this, he might be led to suspect that I was interviewing for a job across the street at News Corp.)


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