Suspicious of your partner cheating on you? Google Latitude can pin him down
By: Melissa D'costa
The new mobile opt-in service by Google allows smartphone and laptop users to share their current location with family and friends. Cool feature or invasion of privacy? iTALK finds out
When music group Police sang their hit single, Every Breath You Take, that went: Every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take, I'll be watching you they probably didn't think it would be adapted so literally, some day, by tech masterminds as a feature on the smartphone.
Google's latest tracking service can be used to spy on your spouse. Illustration/Sameer Pawar
Latitude, Google's latest tracking service, cues you in on the general location of your friend, lover, employer or spouse, using information derived from GPS satellites and cell towers, provided you have downloaded the service.
While Google is promoting it as a feature that keeps you connected, the technology has raised privacy concerns as it could be misused by stalkers, prying employers, jealous partners and obsessive friends.
How Google Latitude works?
An image of how Google Latitude will appear on your screen
>>You download a new version of Google Maps on to your mobile device, and invite friends to join via email.
>>Once they accept, and if they have a Google account with a profile picture, you'll see them on a map on your screen. You can then send them an email, text message or call them, and also derive directions to their location.
>>The application can be downloaded for free from the Google website. The only cost that the consumer will have to bear is the data packet charges that are levied by mobile operators.
>>It works on both, mobile devices and personal computers.
>>Once activated, the location of a person appears as a blue dot on a map on your screen, depending on
privacy settings chosen by him/her.
>>Controls include choosing which contacts can see your location, the ability to set a different privacy level for each contact and allowing the user to hide or even enter a false location. Users can choose to enter their location manually or automatically.
It can lead to misunderstandings, stifle a child's growth
Varkha Chulani Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist
It erodes trust: In the case of a lover or spouse, if one of them is not aware that the other is tracking them, it could create trust issues. In an abusive relationship, it becomes a handy tool for one partner to control and intimidate the other. A small slip up, can lead to misunderstandings and can create tensions in relationships, especially if one partner is of a suspicious temperament.
It stifles a child's growth: If overprotective parents decide to use this service, they could stifle a child's growth. It's best that adolescents make mistakes and learn from them, rather than get tracked in an effort to keep them away from trouble.
Can put employees under pressure: An overzealous boss can use the service to keep employees on tenterhooks. This could leave employees edgy, easily leading to exhaustion and fatigue as they would avoid taking breaks in between work.
Can be used by stalker to track your whereabouts
Rahul Varshikar, Head of Cyber Forensic at Agape e-Business Limited
The service can pose a threat to a user's security, since it intrudes on a person's right to privacy. While Google claims that this is an opt-in service, there's always the possibility of it being installed on someone's mobile phone, without their knowledge. It can even be misused by a stalker to keep track of the victim.
Will rob us of me-time, can't plan surprises: Say India's young
Archana Puran singh TV host and actor
If my husband were to use this service, I'd have to think up another excuse. I usually tell him I am stuck in traffic when I am running late or caught up somewhere.
Rohit Roy Actor and TV host
I like surprising my wife. If she decided to use this service, she'd know what I am up to. That would ruin everything.
Shoaib Sadiq HR manager
When on tour, I drop in at a coffee shop or an eatery to de-stress during a hectic work day. If someone's watching me, I would feel suffocated.
Reena Carvalho Marketing professional with media firm
My job profile requires me to travel a lot. If my boss decided to use this service, I wouldn't be able to take a breather by sightseeing, which I tend to do after I'm done with work.