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Google Latitude- New Tool For Tracking Family/Friends? Or Privacy Issue?

Google announced today their new application called Google Latitude that allows tracking of locations via cellphone using GPS.  Techmeme today was abuzz about this. VentureBeat added that Google is getting ahead in the social networking game (and I agree). All Things Digital posted with a test run where the blogger (Katherine Boehret ) "stalked her sister, boyfriend and boss".

@momsatwork brought up a good discussion point on Twitter  "New Google tracking software is every teen's nightmare. http://tinyurl.com/dzgtwo".

I responded @techmama "Google Latitude not teen's nightmare. I say parents new tool ( At library? – no you're at mall).."

At that point, I decided it was time to post.

First of all it is important to understand how Google Latitude works (excerpt from Official Google Blog post):

"Latitude is a new feature for Google Maps on your mobile device. It's
also an iGoogle gadget on your computer. Once you've opted in to
Latitude, you can see the approximate location of your friends and
loved ones who have decided to share their location with you."

Continuing on in the post, it mentions the privacy issue:

"Fun aside, we recognize the sensitivity of location data, so we've
built fine-grained privacy controls right into the application.
Everything about Latitude is opt-in. You not only control exactly who
gets to see your location, but you also decide the location that they
see."

The good news is that the service is completely "opt-in" and can be disabled at any time. Here is the video about Google Latitude privacy (IMPORTANT FOR PARENTS especially to share with teens to ensure they UNDERSTAND the privacy settings):

So looking back on the Twitter conversation, yes – it may be teenager's who lie to their parents worse nightmare. For example, if a parent set up Latitude PRIVACY settings to only allow parents to track their teen's cellphone – then if their teenager said they are at the library studying when really they are at the mall shopping – they would be caught. 

On the cool side, isn't some of being a teenager sneaking off with friends? On the non-cool side – maybe it is easier to be honest with parents to show responsibility (which teens need to have a phone in the first place). On the other hand, it may not be appropriate for parents to be online all day tracking where their teens are. Also, teenagers could always work around or disable the settings.

Well then, what is the middle ground?

My suggestion for any parent whose teen has a cell phone is to SPEND THE TIME TO UNDERSTAND GOOGLE LATITUDE'S PRIVACY SETTINGS.

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CBS News with Katie Couric on Twitter!

While I get updates on Hurricane Ike from CNN, I like to get news updates from CBS. I have especially been following the CBS News With Katie Couric’s series called "Where We Stand" to help get information about the election.  Here is my tweet from CBS News on Sep. 11:

"Obama And McCain On How To End The War: http://www.cbsnews.com/stor…

The news story is called "Obama And McCain On How To End The War". It is this one sentence that confirmed yet again why I am a firm Obama supporter:

"My first day in office, I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in and
I will give them a new mission," Barack Obama said in July. "That is to
end this war.
"

 

CNN Rick Sanchez Live Tweets Hurricane Ike

Yesterday I was reveling in my quiet time at home while the kids were at school, trying to get some work done.. I put in a few good hours then decided to take my tweet break and see what my Twitter buddies were up to. Little did I realize my new Twitter buddy, Rick Sanchez from CNN, was live tweeting Hurricane Ike from Morgan Point Texas. Here is the tweet I received:

RICK SANCHEZ: "going on the air in just 14 minutes, in morgan’s point.  think i may be right in it. 
bay already up ten feet.

      

So I turned on the TV, wanting to see if it was for real and to see how people are doing in Texas (I have friends there).  And what do you know – there was Rick – holding onto his hat and checking Twitter from his computer. From his report, people were prepared and holding up fine.

Hpim0513_2

My next tweet back to him was:

TECHMAMA: "What laptop are you using that you can have it out in the rainy, windy weather while you are covering the hurricane?

      

Seriously, I could use that type of laptop so I could do some work while my three boys are playing on the front lawn, which many times feels like a Hurricane!

Kinda fun getting news updates on Twitter (or Facebook for the matter)..