Mathew Ingram writes on GigaOM:
The 18th-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham came up with an idea for a futuristic prison he called the “Panopticon,” a building with mirrors that would allow everyone to see what their neighbors were doing. Thanks to the growth of social tools like Twitter and Facebook and Foursquare, we now have the ingredients for a digital version of this phenomenon, and some are already using those mirrors for questionable purposes: in addition to creepy apps like “Girls Around Me,” the UK is proposing a law that would allow for monitoring of social media (as well as email and text messaging) without a warrant, U.S. universities admit that they already track what their athletes are saying — and a high-school student was recently expelled for comments he made on his personal Twitter account. At this point, advertisers tracking us online is the least of our problems.
In case you missed the furore, the “Girls Around Me” app has attracted a huge amount of negative attention for plotting the location of women on a mobile app by combining Facebook profile information and Foursquare check-in data. Foursquare has blocked the app from using its API, but the developers of the controversial service complain that they don’t do anything different than plenty of other apps such as Sonar.me — and they point out that the information they use to compile the profiles of the women they feature is from the publicly available Facebook profiles of those users…
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