Google's new application Latitude, is it an invasion in to your privacy or a better way to stay connected?

New Google software, Latitude, lets cell phone users share their location with others. Google hopes it will help people find each other and keep track of friends. To protect privacy, Google specifically requires people to sign up for the service. Also people can share their precise location, the city they’re in, or nothing at all.
But so far the audience is literally ‘scared’ of the application. People are freaked out for being located by their friends and family.
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  • I don’t quite understand all the fuss given that it’s an opt-in service. First, you have to install it on your phone, then there’s a clearly marked option to hide it from your friends if you prefer to do so. If you wish to share, you have to actively state who your “friends” are. They cannot try to find you without your consent.
    All in all, I have to come down on the “better way to stay connected”. It’s only an invasion of my privacy if Google ignores the “Friends” and “Hide my location” settings or otherwise broadcasts my location without my consent. So far, I have not seen that to be the case.

  • As long as Google does not use the info for commercial purposes or anything that does not have your consent, it is ok. Sometime back my google account was hacked and spam mails were sent from my mail id. I consider that invasion. I am angry with Google for not protecting my account better. But this service should be good for people who want to be connected.

  • Latitude is the proverbial double edged sword. Google is claiming it is an opt in service, however given the technical advancements we are experiencing the ability to override the “opt in” feature is very real. Cell phones always have been able to be tracked, even though the accuracy is subject to discussion.
    I am very concerned about the multiple invasions of privacy that we are experiencing, especially since they are being sold as “social networking” and letting everyone know all of our personal details. We need to carefully review all of our “technology” advancements and realize how many individual liberties we are giving up for them.
    Miguel Richards
    Senior Manager, IS / IT / Data Center Operations

  • I just don’t get all these privacy concerns. I understand the issues of identity theft, but I think these things are not so closely related as people usually assume.
    Personal privacy is a fairly recent concern. In prior times you could always get privacy by going and living in a cave as a hermit or up sticks and sail across an ocean, so privacy came at an enormous personal cost. Other than that, you had to accept that the people you interacted with on a day-to-day basis would know a lot about you, your friends and your family too.
    As this is an opt-in service, don’t use it if the positives don’t outweight the negatives. I’d like to try it but it doesn’t work on the iPhone yet. I don’t mind if anyone knows where I am, I’m not doing anything I shouldn’t be!

  • Latitude is opt-in, that solves any privacy concerns. If you don’t want to be tracked then, don’t sign up.
    That is very different than something like Street View which takes a photo of a house without any consent on the part of the home owner. That’s where you start getting into new territory. The view of your house doesn’t belong to you, anyone can look at it while walking down your street. However, when you combine massive amounts of public data into a searchable online database that can be cross referenced against other sets of public data it starts to enable uses that “feel” pretty invasive.

  • I see no invasion of privacy, you can turn on and off almost everything available in the service. It positively is a way to remain connected.

  • It’s not an invasion if you don’t use it. Remember to turn it off if you are going some place you don’t want known.

  • This is just one of several types of information that can be gleaned by Google and many other companies that has the potential to be inappropriately exploited. It would be nice to see the creation of some sort of universal Apache-like license agreement that vendors such as Google can sign certifying that they adhere to the constraints placed upon them by this TBD agreement. Then, it would be good if either a green or red icon somewhere is displayed at the corner of your screen (phones and/or browsers) letting you know that the service provider you’re currently using adheres to the policies of this license agreement.

  • Bill D'Camp

    Google clearly states in another terms of service document that if you provide information by posting, sending e-mail, etc, the content will belong to them. Does that apply to this app? If so, then I would have concern about using it.

  • Since it is totally “OPT-IN” how can it be an invasion – you decide you want it or not – let the user beware….

  • I will not be tracked by anyone, so I won’t be using it.
    What if it gets hacked ?

  • Hi,
    Application to me looks like one level up twitter like services; twitterizens update their status with micro messages/micro blogging and let ppl in network know “what they are upto”; Google Latitude ads one more dimension and makes it “what they are upto, and where” 🙂
    Monetizing applications like this is herculean job for sure; you cannot look at only serving ads/deals/…
    Its personal choice; if you find it useful/cool/the thing you will use it or you may simply ignore it.

  • The same as all social networks: it’s your choice to join it or not, and is also your choice to select which kind of information you share. In this case, I’m sure if the users require more privacy features (like allowing only some people to see you) it will be added, nothing to worry about.
    In fact I see it at the level of Twitter: you can be a stupid politician who goes in a secret mission and tells so in your Twitter, or you can just put (relatively) neutral info. Your choice and your fault.

  • It seems somewhat absurd that people would be “scared” of the application – the software offers many ways to manage your privacy and limit others’ access to your location. Moreover, it’s not required at all. The technology is also nothing new. Remember, GPS was once military-only, but eventually became widespread. Cell tower location was once available only to law enforcement, but eventually became a major selling point of the iPhone. The ability to share that location is a natural evolution of the tech. Note, however, that it’s an *ability,* not a *requirement.*

  • Matthew Leitch

    I think what the scared part is about, is that the sum of the information that someone can glean from the internet about you is scary. This is just another add on to that amount of information.
    Just be sure that you don’t use any personal information on the Internet that you don’t want someone to see. I use a PO Box for those that want an address, for instance.

  • I am usually quite amused when people cite privacy concerns, but at the same time, have a lot of “friends” who know every intimate detail about them. The inescapable truth is that if somebody really wanted to find out things about you, there are a lot more avenues other than the internet and the information in the social and professional networking websites.
    That said, there are a lot of people feeling that their privacy is being invaded and that I ascribe to them not being fully acclimatised to the “wired” world.
    So if something is truly personal and you’re paranoid about somebody finding out, don’t put it out there. If it is personal but you cannot resist telling your “friends”, find other ways to let them know. You can’t have it both ways, even though most applications are creating ways of doing this.
    All said and done, I would rather trust a computer swearing secrecy than a person, assuming a strong enough password thats not also the name of your dog.

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