Friday, February 6, 2009

Weekly Roundup


Jason said...

Response to the google article:
I found another article related to the article that discusses the privacy issues that arise due to Google Latitude. There are 5 scenarios that the article puts forth in which Latitude could be abused:

1. An employer provides staff with Latitude-enabled phones on which a reciprocal sharing agreement has been enabled, but does not inform staff of this action or that their movements will be tracked.

2. A parent gifts a mobile phone to a child without disclosing that the phone has been Latitude-enabled.

3. A partner, friend, or other person gains access to an unattended phone (left on a bar on in the house) and enables Latitude without the other person's knowledge.

4. A Latitude-enabled phone is given as a gift.

5. A phone left unattended, for example with security personnel or a repair shop, is covertly enabled.

These scenarios don't concern me too much because the privacy controls seem to make sure that users will not be using the service if they do not want to. The scenarios above involve situations where a phone is taken without the knowledge of the owner in which case the fault lies with the owner. The same argument could be said for a person misplacing their credit and social security cards. I realize that this line of reasoning should probably be more refined than it is, but I don't think there is a privacy issue that is compelling enough to discontinue Latitude.

The article:;jsessionid=PZCKHWS45ZWVUQSNDLRSKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=213201991&pgno=2&queryText=&isPrev=

Alex P. said...

Regarding the cellphone article:
The laws that would protect against cellphone searches are very outdated. By the current laws, the police may search anything on the person arrested, which would include a cellphone. The police are allowed to go through a cellphone to find evidence, but ONLY for the crime that the person was arrested for. That is why I agree with the Florida judge that the marijuana evidence should have been suppressed, not because it was found on a cellphone, but because the police had no reason to be searching a cellphone to find evidence of the original crime. Yet I disagree with the Virginia judge, who reasons that the police cannot tell how much data a device holds and can therefore search anything. It is common knowledge that a cellphone will hold large amounts of data and saves personal, potentially incriminating evidence. These cases further prove that we need an updated set of laws that deal with search and seizure in the digital age.

Ryan said...

Independent News Article Response:

Recently, countries around the world have begun to look at technology that would allow them to send messages to every cell phone in a given area to alert citizens of pending natural disasters such as tsunamis or tornados. With all of the attention we have been giving to the negative effects of cell phones, like software by Google that will now allow friends to find out your exact location (, this story comes as an excellent example of how technology can be used to save lives. Many reading will question how this new technology differs from SMS text messages that many organizations and even this University will send to alert individuals of an emergency. The answer comes in the ability to target a particular cell tower and indiscriminately blast a message to every cell phone that is connecting to that tower. The result of this all out blitz comes in everyone receiving the particular information without having to enroll in a special program to be included on the broadcast list. SMS text message communication can also be hindered in a natural disaster which leads to the reason why this technology is being created. In regards to privacy, many have begun to disagree with these types of programs for fears that the government in the future will be able to send out any information that it wants to its citizens. The concern coming from proponents comes in wither or not this type of service should require people to “opt-in” or “opt-out” from receiving the message. I personally think that an opt-out type of enrollment would be more effective because less people would take the necessary steps to un-enroll over those that would take steps to make sure they were apart of the program. Logistically, this program also has its faults whereas if a tower is damaged during the disaster no messages would be sent, causing some to worry about potential lawsuits from citizens that would cite they were not adequately given notice as to the severity of a disaster by a government that assured them it would provide notifications. Other concerns come in the idea that if a cell phone was turned off or out of a service network the cell broadcast would not be received even when service was restored or that cell phone companies would have no way or tracking who received the message and who didn’t to charge them for receiving a message. Proponents also cite that because of the growing network of individuals of various backgrounds that have cell phones, that people like children might receive the cell broadcast… although this critique is irrational in my opinion, my response is to simply un-enroll your children if you have a problem with them receiving natural disaster information.

This article also touches on something we talked about in class in regards to the growing collaboration between private companies (in this case cell phone companies) and the government. Many are also concerned with the notion that cell phone companies are willing to hand over the numbers of their customers and allow a government sponsored message to all. Ultimately, I side with the authors of this article and believe that although there may be small security concerns to individuals, this is an instance where the tradeoffs can be made…especially if it leads to lives being saved.

Jessie D said...

Police Blotter: Courts Split over police searches of handhelds: In both situations, the police definitely discovered valuable information through their suspects’ phones and thus were able to punish those who disobeyed the law. However, the means by which these police officers solved their issues were totally invasions of privacy. Given that it was probably not the most intelligent idea of the pulled over driver to keep a picture of marijuana on his phone, his phone is still his personal information and as the article said it is a kind of “personal, intimate diary”. Also, the officer saw pictures of the suspect’s wife that were definitely not meant to be seen by others. By adding that there were “intimate pictures” of a woman on this man’s phone as well I think that it helps to convey the message that what someone has in these handhelds is private. However, I do find it interesting that in the other scenario in this article, the court rules that it was perfectly fine for the police officer to go through his contacts in order to trace who he received drugs from. I think that the judicial system truly needs to determine what exactly its privacy laws entail and then need to quickly enforce them because those who live in this society should know what exactly their rights are and where the line of privacy is drawn.