Posted By: Will Rhodes
The thing about civil liberties where I really do get cocked off, is the matter of choice. Choice of the individual to say who has what information, at what time – and of my choosing. With government surveillance you don’t have that – they pick what they can, and do, have on you – where they will watch you with impunity – take all you information and use it for their ends – and that never works out well.
But the Guardian story, I feel, is going one step too far. It is like using Internet Explorer – you have the information about how bad it is, and you still use it – well that is your choice is it not?
The same with Google – you can use it or not, again choice. And this is where I feel Latitude should be looked at. You are not forced to download the application. No government body, well at least I don’t think so, is forcing the mobile phone makers to install Latitude on the phone and making it work by default – though you can see the UK Labour government doing that.
So why all the fuss? OK – it has the possibility of being abused – but, as is in the story:
Step 1: Pick up someone’s phone without them knowing. Maybe you’re a manager who wants to check on a serially late employee. Or a jealous boyfriend. Or a serial killer. Doesn’t matter, just do it.
Step 2: Enable Google Latitude.
Step 3: Mask your presence so the owner of the phone doesn’t know that you’re watching them.
Yes it is that simple – and what Google do is make things simple – that is why they are so successful! If Yahoo had been as simple then they would be the market leader not Google. We know why Windows is in almost every PC – but you have a choice with that – you DON’T have to have Windows – you can have a Mac, or some other operating system.
With Latitude you can NOT install it – you can turn off the GPS, then it won’t work.
When you are forced to have these applications, software etc then that is truly intrusive.
Google practically is the internet, and its services have become as intrinsic to our use of the internet as keyboards and Internet Explorer. What happens when Latitude becomes as ubiquitous as Google Search, GoogleMap and Gmail?
But Google isn’t practically the internet – as I have said, repeatedly – you don’t have to use it. I use a few search engines, Dogpile being one of them – I have a Gmail account, but don’t use it for anything other that spam collection, because you have to sign up to so many sites while blogging you need a few web accounts – I use LiveMail, too. I don’t use GooleMap.
All this is my choice – and that is how I like it.
I won’t use Latitude – because I don’t like what it can do, but, again, that is my choice.
So I don’t see it as an infringement – just a toy that will either take off or not – the customer will decide how broad its use or not.