Tag Archives | GPS

Microsoft Creates ‘Avoid Ghetto’ Feature For GPS

ghettoThere are very few areas in the United States in which merely driving through on a main thoroughfare is a serious danger, so personal safety is not what this is about — it’s an app to avoid people of a lower socioeconomic status. Via the Inquisitr:

Microsoft Corporation is taking heat for a patent it filed for what is being called the “Avoid Ghetto” GPS App. The app esentially links up with your GPS or Smartphone and when you are approaching an area that, based on crime statistics or racial make-up, is deemed undesirable it gives you directions around it.

Sarah E. Chinn, author of Technology and the Logic of American Racism, made an interesting point where she stressed that even though it may give people less of a nervous feeling to not get lost and wind up in a really bad neighborhood, the vast majority of crime is committed by people that know each other so this app would not really improve driver safety.

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Supreme Court Troubled By Warrantless GPS Tracking

The SupremesI guess the justices of the highest court in the land (a.k.a. the Supremes) realized that the U.S. government has the power to watch any of them without any legal action … Mark Sherman reports in the AP:

The Supreme Court invoked visions of an all-seeing Big Brother and satellites watching us from above. Then things got personal Tuesday when the justices were told police could slap GPS devices on their cars and track their movements, without asking a judge for advance approval.

The occasion for all the talk about intrusive police actions was a hearing in a case about whether the police must get a search warrant before using GPS technology to track criminal suspects. The outcome could have implications for other high-tech surveillance methods as well.

The justices expressed deep reservations about warrantless GPS tracking. But there also was no clear view about how or whether to regulate police use of the devices.

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U.S. Federal Court: ’1984 May Have Come A Bit Later Than Predicted, But It’s Here At Last’

Anti1984What are the chances that the U.S. Supreme Court will restrict the use of GPS tracking devices in police surveillance? We’ll find out soon, reports Adam Liptak in the New York Times:

In a series of rulings on the use of satellites and cellphones to track criminal suspects, judges around the country have been citing George Orwell’s “1984” to sound an alarm. They say the Fourth Amendment’s promise of protection from government invasion of privacy is in danger of being replaced by the futuristic surveillance state Orwell described.

In April, Judge Diane P. Wood of the federal appeals court in Chicago wrote that surveillance using global positioning system devices would “make the system that George Orwell depicted in his famous novel, ‘1984,’ seem clumsy.” In a similar case last year, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the federal appeals court in San Francisco wrote that “1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it’s here at last.”

Last month, Judge Nicholas G.

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The Battle Over FBI’s Warrantless GPS Tracking

GPS TrackerKim Zetter writes on WIRED’s Threat Level:

Kathy Thomas knew she was under surveillance. The animal rights and environmental activist had been trailed daily by cops over several months, and had even been stopped on occasion by police and FBI agents.

But when the surveillance seemed to halt suddenly in mid-2005 after she confronted one of the agents, she thought it was all over. Months went by without a peep from the FBI surveillance teams that had been tracking her in undercover vehicles and helicopters. That’s when it occurred to her to check her car.

Rumors had been swirling among activists that the FBI might be using GPS to track them — two activists in Colorado discovered mysterious devices attached to their car bumpers in 2003 — so Thomas (a pseudonym) went out to the vehicle in a frenzy and ran her hands beneath the rear bumper. She was only half-surprised to find a small electronic device and foot-long battery wand secured to her metal fender with industrial-strength magnets.

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Google Lobbies Nevada to Allow Self-Driving Cars

Google Self Driving CarJohn Markoff writes in the NY Times:
Google, a pioneer of self-driving cars, is quietly lobbying for legislation that would make Nevada the first state where they could be legally operated on public roads. The cars, hybrids, have a laser range finder on the roof, as well as radar and camera sensors and more equipment in the trunk. And yes, the proposed legislation would include an exemption from the ban on distracted driving to allow occupants to send text messages while sitting behind the wheel. The two bills, which have received little attention outside Nevada’s Capitol, are being introduced less than a year after the giant search engine company acknowledged that it was developing cars that could be safely driven without human intervention.
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The iPhone Tracks Your Location Without Your Consent

HAL-iPhoneCharles Arthur writes in the Guardian:

Security researchers have discovered that Apple’s iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner’s computer when the two are synchronised.

The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone’s recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner’s movements using a simple program.

For some phones, there could be almost a year’s worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple’s iOS 4 update to the phone’s operating system, released in June 2010.

“Apple has made it possible for almost anybody – a jealous spouse, a private detective – with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you’ve been,” said Pete Warden, one of the researchers.

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China Plans to Track Beijing Citizens Through Their Cell Phones

Motorola L7

Photo: Kristoferb (CC)

Tania Branigan writes in the Guardian:

Government claims technology will ease transport congestion, but experts warn it could be used to control dissent…

Human rights campaigners have expressed concerns over plans to track every mobile phone user in Beijing through global positioning technology.

Chinese media reported this week that pilot schemes were being introduced for an “information platform of real-time citizen movement” to help with traffic management.

Li Guoguang, deputy director of the Beijing municipal science and technology commission, said the project would be used to tackle congestion by allowing officials to monitor the flow of people through the transport system.

“To some degree, [it] can effectively increase citizens’ travelling efficiency and ease traffic jams,” he told the Beijing Daily.

He added that citizens would be able to buy the information, although more sensitive information – such as the location of individuals – would not be available.

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California Students Who Skip School Tracked By GPS

GPSEric Capenter reports in the Orange County Register:

ANAHEIM — Frustrated by students habitually skipping class, police and school officials in Anaheim are turning to GPS tracking to ensure they come to class.

The Anaheim Union High School District is the first in California to test Global Positioning System technology as part of a six-week pilot program that began last week, officials said.

Seventh- and eighth-graders with four unexcused absences or more this school year are assigned to carry a handheld GPS device, about the size of a cell phone.

Each morning on schooldays, they get an automated phone call reminding them that they need to get to school on time. Then, five times a day, they are required to enter a code that tracks their locations – as they leave for school, when they arrive at school, at lunchtime, when they leave school and at 8 p.m.

The students are also assigned an adult coach who calls them at least three times a week to see how they are doing and help them find effective ways to make sure they get to class on time.

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Saudi Arabia Captures Israeli ‘Spy Vulture’

VultureVia the Telegraph:
The large bird, which was carrying a GPS transmitter and a tag bearing the identification code R65 from Tel Aviv University, strayed into rural Saudi Arabian territory at some point last week, according to a report in the Israeli daily Ma'ariv. Residents and local reporters told Saudi Arabia's Al-Weeam newspaper that the matter seemed to be linked to a "Zionist plot" and swiftly alerted security services. The bird has since been placed under arrest. The accusations went viral, according to the Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper, with hundreds of posts on Arabic-language websites and forums claiming that the "Zionists" had trained the birds for espionage. The incident comes amid growing paranoia among Israel's neighbours over the nation's growing military might.
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