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Google’s Latitude Tracks Your Every Move

Google has released a new application called Latitude. The service allows a user to share their physical location with friends and family. Using cell phones towers and WIFI connections, Google creates a map that shows your location and movements. Though they claim your privacy is protected, many people are concerned.

Here is how Google describes the service:

Share locations
Location sharing starts only when both you and a friend agree. Invite friends via email or easily add them from your Gmail contacts.

Share status
Create a status message and upload your photo within Latitude. It also syncs directly with Google Talk. Check your friends’ status messages to see what your friends are up to.

Contact your friends
Quickly contact your friends with an SMS, IM, or phone call. You can also get directions to lead you to your friends.

Control privacy
You can share, set, or hide your location – or turn off Google Latitude – from the privacy menu. You can also hide your location or share only a city-level location with certain friends.
The Privacy FAQs:
The Google Privacy Policy and our various product-specific privacy notices describe how we treat personal information when you use Google’s products and services, including any of Google’s mobile products and services. In addition, the following describes our mobile privacy practices.

Mobile-specific information we collect

* Most of the personally identifying information we collect is what you tell us about yourself. For example, certain of our products and services allow you to interact and share personal information and data with others. You choose what you want to share and how you want to share it.
* Sometimes, we record your phone number. We record your phone number when you send it to us; ask us to remember it; or make a call or send a text message or SMS to or from Google. If you ask us to remember your phone number, we will associate your phone number with your Google Account, or, if you do not have a Google Account, with some other similar account ID. We often generate this account ID based on your device and hardware IDs, so if you change your device or hardware, you will have to re-associate this new device or hardware with your account before we can authenticate you.
* Most of the other information we collect for mobile, such as your device and hardware IDs and device type, the request type, your carrier, your carrier user ID, and the content of your request, does not by itself identify you to Google, though it may be unique or consist of or contain information that you consider personal.
* If you use location-enabled products and services, such as Google Maps for mobile, you may be sending us location information. This information may reveal your actual location, such as GPS data, or it may not, such as when you submit a partial address to look at a map of the area.
* Certain of our products and services allow you to personalize the content you receive from us. For these products and services, we will record your preferences and any information you provide about yourself or your interests (such as a list of your stocks to personalize your stock listings).
* If you use Google to transcode, or format, non-mobile pages to display properly on your device, we need to send your request to Google’s servers for formatting. That means that we will record these requests, which are generally for material beyond Google’s sites.
* For products and services with voice recognition capabilities, we collect and store a copy of the voice commands you make to the product or service. To improve processing of your voice commands, we may also continuously record in temporary memory a few seconds of ambient background noise. This recording stays only temporarily on the device and is not sent to Google.

Uses

* We use your information to process and personalize your requests. We also use the information for support, to develop new features, and to improve the overall quality of Google’s products and services.
* We may also use the information to show you a history of your activity, to provide you with statistics about you or your use of our product or service, or to provide you with a better user experience.
* If you purchase something through Google, we may also use your information to bill you and to handle billing disputes.

Information sharing and onward transfer

* All requests must be sent through your mobile carrier’s network and your carrier may have access to it. For information regarding your carrier’s treatment of your information, please consult your carrier’s privacy policies.
* We may share your information with certain third parties we use to perform certain functions, such as billing and text message or SMS delivery. These third parties will be contractually bound to treat your information in accordance with the applicable Google privacy policies.
* Certain of our products and services allow you to interact and share your information with others. Please consider carefully before disclosing any personal information or data that might be accessible to others.

Your choices

* Certain of our products and services allow you to opt-out of certain information gathering and sharing or to opt-out of certain products, services, or features. Each product has a help page which describes these and other options.

Privacy: Location privacy
Print
Google does not share an individual person’s location with third parties without explicit permission. Before someone can view your location, you must either send a location request by adding them as a friend or accept their location request and choose to share back your location. Your location is only shared with your chosen contacts when you have enabled Latitude and have it open or have allowed it to share location in the background on your device. To see who can view your location at any time, simply open the Latitude list view to see all contacts with whom you’re sharing.

For more privacy info, please see our Mobile Privacy Policy.

Note: My Location (beta) and Latitude are two separate features for Google Maps for mobile and can be enabled or disabled independently. My Location provides Google Maps for mobile with your approximate location so that you can zoom in on your current location or search for nearby businesses easily. While Latitude associates your location with a Google Account and shares it with your selected friends, My Location does not associate your location with an account or phone number. You can disable Latitude at any time from its privacy menu and still continue to use My Location without sharing your location with your friends.

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