MPs claim Google Latitude is danger to privacy: Irony-meter explodes

British MPs are railing against Google Latitude, which shows your friends where you are by tracking your phone. As privacy concerns go, this is definitely the best use of their time

MPs have been complaining about the Google Latitude service, which allows you to see where your friends are on a map. Apparently, it's a violation of privacy.

When you're invited by your friends to join Google Latitude, you must agree to let them see your location or you can decline. If you do agree, your mobile phone signal will pinpoint you and you'll appear as a blue dot on their map. You can hide and reveal your location at any time, as well as manually set a location.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Tom Brake and Lib Dem shadow secretary of state for home affairs Chris Huhne made the privacy claims in an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons. As well as being concerned about possible vulnerability of data to hackers, they say there are some privacy issues with this "insidious threat to our liberties -- 24-hour surveillance and the Big Brother state are now realities". The Lib Dems' Cliche Klaxon is clearly is in for servicing.

With the police keeping tabs on anyone they feel like and the government considering a superdatabase, it's good to see MPs standing up for our civil liberties. We said the same thing about Google Street View. An entirely optional service that lets you see if your friends are nearby is clearly a much greater threat to public privacy than CCTV or ID cards or someone at GCHQ reading your email.

Anyway, what does it matter? We're digital natives: we don't want privacy. Our little blue dot on Google Latitude is complemented by constant tweeting and streaming live on Qik, with the pictures on Facebook minutes later.

But maybe these MPs have a point about the possibility of hacking. After all, if someone can lose a USB stick of confidential police information, anything's possible.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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