Reach Out, redux

In last week's Newsweek, Stephen Levy wrote more about the convergeance of cell phones and GPS tracking.

The prospect of being tracked "turns the freedom of mobile telephony upside down," says Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. His concern is government surveillance and the storage of one's movements in databases. In fact, if information from the GPS signals is retained, it would be trivial to retain a log of an individual's movements over a period of years (just as phone records are kept).

This is in agreement with my Telegram piece on 5/28, though I thought the movement tracklog would be of more use to marketers than to the government.

Levy goes on to write that the loss of privacy won't be immediately apparent, until the novelty of cell-based location services wears off:

Sooner or later, though, it will dawn on us that information drawn from our movements has compromised our "locational privacy"—a term that may become familiar only when the quality it refers to is lost. "I don't see much that will bring it about [protections] in the short term," says Mark Monmonier, author of "Spying With Maps." He thinks that that we'll only get serious about this after we suffer some egregious privacy violations. But if nothing is done, pursuing our love affair with wireless will result in the loss of a hitherto unheralded freedom—the license to get lost. Here's a new battle cry for the wireless era: Don't Geo-Fence me in.

I think those 'egregious violations' may be something as innocuous, but annoying, as location-based text-message spam -- call it stalkmail, if you will (more in an earlier post).