Cellphone tracking powers on request. Who cares?

(written by Intro to GIS student, G. M., who takes a view on privacy contrary from many of the GIS students)

Information and communication technologies that have proliferated throughout developed and even underdeveloped societies have transformed our way of life…but, people ask, “At what cost?”. The cell phone is a great example of this proliferation and its potential cost. It has become a convenience few have been able to resist. One after another people have handed over their personal information and in return they received affordable mobile communication thanks to GPS satellites that constantly scan the earth’s surface and cell phone towers that periodically report on people’s locations. Little did they know they had just given up much of their privacy because their cell phone can be located within 30 meters as long as the battery is intact. A cell phone works with the same technology as GPS directional devices such as Onstar that can constantly transmit a location signal weather this is desired or not. Cell phone companies, which have been entrusted with this information, have been known to release it to government agencies, which inform the companies that the information is necessary for security purposes.

Personally I have no problem with my personal information including my approximate location being made available at any time. I feel by owning a cell phone I have given up a certain amount of my privacy but also feel safe as I carry out my regular routine. As one member of the US Justice department states “Law enforcement has absolutely no interest in tracking the locations of law-abiding citizens” (Nakashima 2007). Even when I do become a target, most likely by advertisers, I will accept this as an externality of the technological age. Whether the externality is positive or negative I have yet to decide. I’m still neutral on this as I have yet to experience any form of invasive action, so I continue my existence, comfortable with the knowledge of potential ongoing surveillance.

These geolcation technologies offer benefits that vastly outweigh costs of developing this technology. As satellites are upgraded and added to the system geolocation information will become more accurate, less expensive, and more readily available. I believe that our privacy has been looked after thus far; however, if society continues down this path we must accept further losses to what many consider a basic human right.

Using the GPS for People Tracking

Justice Department Defends Use of Cell-Phone Tracking Data

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