Sunday, February 19, 2006
Recently announced research supported a nationally televised security industry expert’s assertion that the public is ready for GPS. The Boston University–led survey found a large percentage of respondents receptive to the notion of surveillance in the form of consumer-friendly P2P devices. The findings provided insight into effective strategies for marketing GPS technology to consumers.
GPS manufacturers who want to saturate the market face one remaining challenge. They must gain favor with consumers, and they’ll do this by marketing safety.
Graduate students at Boston University’s College of Communication conducted their research online. Conducted by graduate students, the study looked at 523 online adults’ receptivity to Person-to-Person (P2P) surveillance of loved ones and found 32 percent “likely to use such devices themselves.”
With research findings like this on their side, P2P device manufacturers should go to market en masse this year. The everyday consumer’s possible lack of preoccupation with privacy issues may be incongruent with professional privacy advocates’ agendas.
Verizon Wireless recently announced plans to market a P2P device. The company’s GPS-equipped cell phones will allow parents to track teenagers’ whereabouts.
People choose safety over privacy every time. Those pursuing the market for GPS technology can embrace this notion. GPS manufacturers will gain favor with consumers as safety enablers, not as an invaders of privacy.
Once the public becomes comfortable with GPS, the floodgates will open. Without fear of backlash, consumers, law enforcement officials, and manufacturers alike will then be free to adopt and provide GPS for its many uses.
GPS offers clear benefits for the law enforcement community. On Feb. 7, The Associated Press reported that police in Southern California are turning to GPS technology to curb high-speed pursuit. According to the article, a small number of police cruisers there will receive the StarChase systems, which allows users to shoot GPS-enabled darts that stick to fleeing vehicles.
GPS is the security industry’s ‘killer app,’ the breakthrough that will change everything. Professionals in security have always dreamed of a solution that would make the bad guy’s job impossible. That solution has remained elusive until now. GPS has the potential to make crime as we know it extinct.
The law enforcement market segment is ready to embrace GPS technology, the ‘killer app,’ with abandon, and consumers interested in safety will continue to recognize the technology’s benefits. Manufacturers will position themselves to profit from these opportunities, and, as counterpoint, privacy advocates will react by decrying the dangers that GPS poses to our civil liberties. But the market, which comprises all these factions, will make the final decision.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
For millions seeking their perfect partner on social networking Web sites or advertising through an online or print classified ad, the act of sharing your personal phone or cell number can mean trouble.
This seemingly harmless action can turn into a bonanza for crooks and a nightmare for the innocent, as new Web sites make it easy to reverse-search your home and cell phone numbers to locate your name and address. I encourage online daters and classified advertisers to post and share disposable phone numbers, like myprivateline.com and myclassadd.com, which can forward your calls to wherever you are.
Consumers of all ages should take extra measures to protect the privacy of their cell and home phone numbers. Predators can use a phone number to track someone down. Thieves can use it to locate additional information necessary to steal a person’s identity.
Use disposable phone numbers from companies like PrivateTel (www.privatetelsolutions.com), the leader in an emerging privacy-related personal telecommunications marketplace. A disposable phone number that forwards to your home or cell phone number makes your actual number untraceable. At myprivateline.com and myclassadd.com, disposable numbers can be obtained online in a few minutes, giving citizens a new tool in their personal privacy protection arsenal. These solutions are for everyone who wants to post a phone number at online social networking sites and for individuals or businesses that want to include phone number in an online or print classified ad.
The Social Security number is the key to the "Kingdom." This is why identity thieves love it so much. But it’s not the only number consumers should guard. Keeping your phone numbers private is the best protection against crime.
Crime, especially identity theft, is likely to explode when, for a fee, almost anyone can obtain your cell phone logs or sensitive financial information. Tools exist for people to protect themselves. Now is the time.
News revealed a number of developments in GPS earlier last month. Among these was Verizon Wireless’ decision, reported in Red Herring on Jan. 19, to market to parents a GPS tracking system for them to track their teenagers via cell phones.
Global Positioning System tracking technology will explode as 2006 unfolds. Most people are ready to welcome this technology into their lives. GPS will take the first steps this year toward becoming second nature to us, a must-have just like the phones and other devices that will include GPS technology in them.
The march has already begun. Cars with satellite radio are virtually preconditioned for GPS. Most people with late-model cell phones have the capability to be outfitted with it, and a recent story on CNN’s ‘Headline News” showed how anyone with even an old cell phone can be tracked through simple cell phone tower communication.
Some uses of GPS are logical and offer society benefits that meet little, if any, resistance.
On Jan. 21, The Albuquerque Tribune reported that New Mexico’s Bernalillo County has implemented a GPS program that uses cell phones and ankle bracelets to track repeat violent offenders who might violate restraining orders. According to the article, other counties across the country have adopted similar programs that rely on GPS.
A Jan. 20 report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer gave information on pending GPS legislation in Washington State. The proposed laws would, according to the article, “mandate GPS monitoring for registered sex offenders across the state and set up a GPS pilot program for homeless sex offenders.” Rep. John Lovick, Democrat for Washington State’s Mill Creek district, has sponsored the bills.
GPS systems are the troublemaker’s worst nightmare. Tracking software does not lie, and the days of teenagers coming home late and making up stories about where they’ve been are nearing an end. And criminals may as well hang up their hats and go home. Their careers are over.
GPS tracking systems won’t need to become popular to gain ubiquity. This is a technology that will spread regardless of whether consumers ask for it. Default marketing via the popular culture will bridge any remaining gaps between fear and acceptance.
In an episode about a teenage daughter going out on a date with a much older young man, “Hogan Knows Best,” a surprisingly real “celebreality” show on VH1, presented the idea of GPS tracking.
GPS can strengthen trust and understanding between parents and their children and between society and law enforcement. And, from a perspective of pure convenience, GPS stands to revolutionize the way we keep tabs on one another.
The Christian Science Monitor reported on Jan. 30 that young people are increasingly becoming a prime target for identity theft. Other reports have linked identity thieves with popular sites such as MySpace.com and Facebook.com.
I think the news gives those who run online communities geared primarily for youth a prime opportunity to beef up their security. We give lip service to the notion of protecting our children from danger. Teeming online youth communities can be great outlets for creativity and social growth. Let’s not allow these sites to become great outlets for identity thieves, too, who want to hide behind these benefits.
According to the Christian Science Monitor article, US Federal Trade Commission logs are suggesting a steady rise in identity theft against young people. Other articles in student-run college publications—such as a Jan. 25 report in The Daily Colonial and a Jan. 30 story in The Dakota Student—have specifically shed a light on the dangers of identity theft for people who use sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Users tend to give little thought to posting large amounts of personal information.
Young people have grown up with the Internet and trust it, especially when a site is well-known. Juxtapose this with the common denominator among nearly all online identity theft scares this past year: careless posting of sensitive information to the Web. You have a recipe for disaster. It’s just one more reason why we shouldn’t be surprised at all that youth are a prime target of identity thieves.
And the carelessness again extended beyond the Internet. The Associated Press reported on Feb. 1 that issues of The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette arrived at subscribers’ homes that day with credit card numbers and other sensitive information inadvertently included on home address stickers.
Protection against identity theft and online predators doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t even have to cramp anyone’s style all that much. But we do need to pay attention. Leadership and a sense of responsibility from industry will help us to meet these growing challenges. Legislative responsiveness wouldn’t hurt, either. And commonsense behavior on the part of consumers is always critical.