Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Google Maps - Pushing the Limits of Spatial Privacy?

Attached is a link to a New York Times blog on a feature of Google Maps that allows Google to "know' within varying amounts of accuracy where the user is located based upon the user's cell phone, even if the cell-phone is not GPS-enabled. Google will then communicate this back to the user so that he or she can find out where they are or where they want to go.

I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in privacy in a spatial context pay particular attention to the wide divergence in the comments to the blog; they show the varying degrees of knowledge about the technology as well as levels of concerns about its implications. Courts will struggle with identifying an expectation of privacy that is "reasonable" in this context.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Christmas Shopping

I am sure you have noticed the number of television commercials involving GPS devices during the holiday season. I find the one of a ribbon cutting for a new bridge the most intriguing. Immediately following the cutting of the ribbon - a matter of a second or two - a couple with a GPS device in their car drives by and then over the bridge.

Clearly the intent of the commercial is to show that even though the bridge had just opened, it had already been loaded onto the GPS device and made available to the customer; the company is advertising the timeliness and accuracy of its spatial data. I wonder, however, if the company is not creating an expectation for consumers that cannot be met -- and which could be used against them in future litigation.