Tragic Example Of The Dangers Of Relying Too Much On Kid Tracking

from the makes-things-worse,-not-better dept

Back in September, we wondered what all the fuss was from people who thought the ability to locate their kids via GPS chips in mobile phones was somehow a “safety feature.” In fact, we thought it was likely to make the situation worse. First, there’s the chance that this could be abused completely — and a potential abductor (most kidnappers are relatives, after all) could find out where the kid is via this technology for the purpose of kidnapping them. Then, any abductor would quickly get rid of the phone before they could be tracked. However, parents might feel more secure, and not teach their kids the necessary street smarts to avoid situations where they’re at risk. Russell Buckley, at the Mobile Weblog, is now pointing out, tragically, it appears that’s exactly what happened in Japan. While the kidnappers left the phone with the kid for a bit, it didn’t do them any good in tracking them down, and eventually the phone was ditched, before the girl was killed. It’s understandable that parents want to keep an eye on their children to protect them, but this technology gives a false sense of protection, and can often make things even worse.

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Comments on “Tragic Example Of The Dangers Of Relying Too Much On Kid Tracking”

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dorpus says:

Gray areas

Oh ok, now I know why the Japanese media was making such a big fuss about it — I hadn’t read the details of the grisly incident.

That said, there is a large gray area in that culture. In America, we have severe social taboos against children talking to strangers. Over in Japan, you’ve got e.g. lonely old people eager to buy lunch for a kid, someone who offers a ride to a kid just to be nice. There was one recent episode in Osaka where an old man with a box of unwanted desserts forced two boys to eat them, and the boys got sick and had to go to the hospital because they were told not to take candy from strangers, and got freaked about it. The symptoms turned out to be entirely psychosomatic, the desserts were harmless — the old man was just being a little rough in his tactics.

Lawrence says:

GPS phones

I agree that there can be a false sense of security with these GPS phones, but I do have to wonder about the idea that it’s somehow able to make things worse. There’s no evidence in this Japanese case that the killer was able to magically intercept the GPS signal to locate the girl, and in fact there are witnesses that saw him picking her up outside her school.

This isn’t the first site I’ve seen making this GPS tech out to somehow be anything more than the passive tool I believe it to be, I’d be interested in hearing the logic behind the idea that the GPS feature is in any way dangerous.

Dave Starr (user link) says:

Re: Re: GPS phones

caveat: I am a vendor of GPS technology. That said, I still would like to know, Mike, in what way was the tradegedy in Japan made worse by the kidbapped girl having a GPS-capable phone? That is what you article promised in it’s headline and, as some others have already mentioned, there’s absolutley no information offerred to support the claim.
Any technology can be overhyped. However, common sense tells us that being able to know the location of an asset, of any description, is at least one link in the chain of links required to secure it. I don’t sell GPS phones or bracelet’s, etc, for children … but if my own children were still young and at home, they would each be carrying one. Such a small, cheap device would have added one more level in security during those worrysome years when they were young.

Is GPS tracking a be-all and end-all for anything? Not that I know of, but since you and I and every other taxpayer pays for it every April 15th, I can’t see the point in denigrating cheap, effective applications of the technology that do help people … especially when the facts of the denigration just aren’t there.
Best regards

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Re:2 GPS phones

There’s some details the media did not fully disclose before — the killer made hundreds of cuts all over her body, draining all the blood, pulled out all her teeth with pliers, sent a mobile phone pic of this to her mom, before ditching her body in the river, posed in a strange position.

Details at

There was someone on, an all-purpose Japanese forum site, who bragged about commiting a crime like this a few days before the incident.

Ben says:

Bad ads?

Is anyone else a little troubled by the ads on techdirt lately? This article is about how cell-phone-based kid tracking was no substitute for keeping track of your kids, and that led to someone being killed. The ads? “Get a new T-Mobile cell phone!” Ugh.
The main page was showing a bunch of left-field ads like credit cards and debt consolidation, too.

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