Wed, Mar 11th 2009 3:15pm
Google's new Latitude service, which lets people share their location via Google Maps, launched to a lot of coverage last month. There have been plenty of similar services around for a long time, but Latitude got the PR boost the Google brand provides, making it a lot more noticeable than earlier efforts, and it hasn't failed to escape the attention of some British politicians. In an Early Day Motion (described as little more than a way to call attention to pet projects), four members of parliament called for the government there to "examine the privacy implications of Google Latitude and to take action to ensure that Latitude does not represent a privacy threat." Keep in mind that Latitude is an opt-in service, one in which users must actively turn on location-sharing; furthermore, as The Register points out, British mobile phone operators track handset locations and retain the information for a year in case police want the info, which seems to be a bigger privacy issue than the opt-in service. As long as Google clearly explains what Latitude does and how it works, and users must opt-in to the service, it's hard to see how there's much of a privacy problem here. But somehow, it seems that it's publicity, not privacy, the politicians are most interested in.
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