Google’s Latitude Features Beefed-up Privacy Protection

by Harry Wang | Feb. 4, 2009

Google unveiled Latitude today, a location application in Google Map that allows users to track where their friends and family members are. Latitude requires users to sign-up for usage, which means that only opt-in users can interact with each other on the network through location-based services (LBS). But users do have control over who can view their locations—they can even create location “alibis” if they do not want people to know where they actually are. For additional protection, the application only displays the last recorded location for those being “tracked”.

These features should be adequate enough to quiet consumer privacy advocates, in my view. They give plenty of controls to consumers so they can make a conscious decision on the degree of privacy protection they want. Overall, Latitude sets a good example of balancing consumers’ needs for location-specifc information and their concerns over privacy violation.



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