they know where you are

Many 3G cell phones are already capable of revealing your location to anyone who asks and as more phones have the feature, the requests are sure to follow. It’s wonderful if someone is missing or needs to be contacted immediately, but what if you don’t want to be found? Colin Bates, CTO at Mobile Commerce said that all four major cell phone companies already offer a service that reveals a phone’s location given its number.

Retailers would love to send text messages to nearby customers, enticing them to try their wares, and parents are sure to want to check in on their children’s whereabouts. However, there is already legislation, at least in the UK where the article was written, requiring the consent of the phone’s owner before it can be tracked. The last thing I need are text messages spamming my phone.


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  1. The bottom of the article notes that it’s illegal to use this location information without the permission of the phone owner. With that protection in place, I’m all for the phone location service. My new phone has it enabled, but there’s an option to turn it off for anyone but 911 emergency services. I’ve left it on, but I don’t think anything uses it yet.

    Comment by Levi on June 30, 2003 @ 10:10 am
  2. I’m having a strange flashback to a Sandra Bullock movie, “The Net”.

    ~ Ohhh, Shiver

    Comment by Mel on June 30, 2003 @ 11:24 am
  3. Text messaging is expensive. My husband and I had it enabled briefly on our phones when we first got them. But then we got the first bill. Ehh. And it was a pain because using a number pad you have hit the number up to three times to hit the letter you want and then move to the next character. It’s a pain.

    I don’t recall if you have to pay for incoming messages but if you did, getting spam would suck.

    On that same front, I saw an interesting show about gadgets on the History Channel a couple of weeks ago and they showed something that would beam information about places you were traveling by to your car. For example, if you were driving past a state park, it might give you an oral history of the park.

    Comment by Renee on June 30, 2003 @ 1:01 pm
  4. Levi: I noted that in my post, as well as the fact that the article was written by someone from the UK, so the legislation they referred to may or may not exist in the US.

    Comment by dan on June 30, 2003 @ 1:11 pm
  5. Ah, so you did. I must have skimmed over that bit. The manual for my phone did say explicitly that people could only use the information with my permission, though, and even then it’s easily switched off. It’s really not very worrying.

    Comment by Levi on June 30, 2003 @ 1:31 pm
  6. Agreed. If you don’t want to be found, you have to turn off the setting. It would only become a major concern if the phones lost the ability to disable the feature.

    Comment by dan on June 30, 2003 @ 1:40 pm
  7. Well, according to the documentation there are two levels of protection. First, they say that even if you leave it on, services can only use the location info with your explicit okay. Second, you can switch it entirely off except for 911 usage.

    I’m not sure whether either of these are mandatory by law, but I’d imagine they are.

    Comment by Levi on June 30, 2003 @ 2:28 pm
  8. Perfect. They could request your approval by sending you a friendly text message.

    “Dude. Can we snd u ads + figr out where u r?”

    Comment by dan on June 30, 2003 @ 3:30 pm

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