Thursday, 5 February 2009
Give them a bit of Latitude...
So Google's marketing department must be pleased with the coverage it is getting since announcing Latitude, its new people (or rather phone) tracking service, even if the news reporters are concentrating on privacy issues. Any publicity is good publicity as they say. Another company, Loopt, has been offering this sort of service already for some time.
It's actually quite a good idea to have something else in the news which gets people used to the idea of being tracked and what privacy might mean in the future. Increasingly we are going to have all sorts of sensors around the environment, or carried about our person, or in the buildings we frequent, which capture a variety of information, some of which will allow our position to be tracked. A great deal of other information about people will be available through such networks of sensors. The idea of privacy will be better expressed by specifying what information you want to share and who with, and what information you don't. This is another example of the extra decision making that individuals will need to make in the future. Of course giving people control of these decisions is one thing ... whether they trust the infrastructure and more importantly the organisations that operate it is something else. But there is technology to assist with that too!