Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Geolocation - The good and the bad

As more and more applications add geolocation as a feature to their offerings, it gives me pause when I think about the implications of this technology.

I see this technology as a two-edged sword.

On the positive side, the ability to find someone based on geolocating their cell phone via twitter or locating someone via their browser, (See Opera 10 for more on this), can be a very good thing in criminal investigations or search and rescue efforts for the missing.

I was talking to Joe Finder on the phone the other day, and mentioned one of the Twitter phone apps that broadcasts your location when you tweet. That took us into a conversation on how that information might be used in various ways.

Being the suspicious type, (working in my field will do that to you), my take on it is that it could be the ultimate stalker tool.

Just think about the possibilities of following someone famous or not so famous on Twitter so you can see their location when they tweet from their phone. If you are in the general area, you can hone in on them fairly closely.

Personally, I have no desire to have my physical location published to the world. While my browser gives up my general location via my IP address, that only gets you as far as the town that is reported via some whois tools.

Of course, on the other hand, if I was in the trunk of someone's car or trapped in a building, finding me would be one of my paramount concerns. So from that standpoint, giving out my location as specifically as possible would be a very good thing.

You also have to wonder if we are moving toward a voluntary Orwellian society where we are giving up more and more personal information to the world that can easily be tracked by people with whom we have no intention of sharing.

I am curious as to what you readers think. Post a comment with your opinions on this if you feel like sharing.
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