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Agent 99, Use The Garmin Tracking Device…

I happened to be browsing through the Kansas City Star the other day and noticed this interesting article:

New Garmin Tracking Device Raises Privacy Concerns

By MARK DAVIS

The Kansas City Star

Garmin’s newest device, the GTU 10 personal tracking unit, offers buyers a broad slate of uses — as well as the potential for abuses.

Introduced at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month, the product represents a new market for the Olathe-based maker of navigation devices.

Instead of telling you where you’re going, Garmin’s GTU 10 tells you where it has been. You attach it to something, or someone, you’d like to keep track of and check for updates using your cell phone, computer or compatible Garmin device.

Clipped to a backpack, it lets parents know their youngster made it to school today. Stashed inside a boat, it alerts the boat’s owner if the craft unexpectedly leaves the slip at the lake. Tucked in the trunk of a car, the device reveals where a teenager actually goes when borrowing the keys.

My first thought was this would be cool attached to a moveable geocache that was being moved frequently and not being taken home by the cachers. My next thought was that this would provide a level of peace of mind if it was attached to my car. As someone who parks at trail heads on a fairly regular basis I’m always concerned about coming back and find the car broken into (not a big deal) or the car gone (a big deal, especially as I tend to have kids with me!). Having a tracking device on the car would allow one to call the police and give them the cars current location. I can see insurance companies liking this tool.

Like other technology that locates individuals, the GTU 10 device raises questions about privacy and security when it comes to someone’s whereabouts. Namely, is this crossing the line?

“What we’re concerned about is protecting the privacy of individuals with respect to location and movement,” said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that deals with free speech and privacy issues on the Internet.

According to Tien, the courts are “beginning to realize that location data … is kind of sensitive.”

Location data could reveal, for example, that an employee with a doctor’s appointment had visited an oncologist or a Planned Parenthood facility — information the employee might have preferred to keep private.

Cell phones already allow phone companies to know the device’s whereabouts, and this information is available to law enforcement. Device location information is even mandated for 911 emergency services.

Improper access to that data could create privacy and security problems.

My vivid imagination can see all sorts of possibilities for how the GTU10 could be used in breach of someones privacy. However, I think it is very much a case of dealing with the people that get caught than removing the availability of these devices. Only a few nutbars will use them inappropriately and some will get hammered in the courts. Of course, people could just stop doing dodgy things and upsetting criminals – then they would have nothing to hide! 😉

Garmin spokesman Ted Gartner said the location information that the GTU 10 generates comes to Garmin’s computers, where the information is secure and access is password-protected by the consumer.

“It’s certainly as robust as anything else out there,” Gartner said.

The GTU 10’s small size means it also can generate data showing location without the individual knowing. The device is 3 inches long and weighs 1.7 ounces.

Garmin says it could attach to a dog collar. For example, the device owner could set up a “geofence” around his property and the GTU 10 unit would send an alert if the device — and dog — left and then show where it went.

Gartner said one feature of the “geofence” technology could designate an area the shape of a “10-point polygon,” rather than a simple radius from a designated point, as is the case with some tracking technology.

Tien said that capability and the device’s concealable size raise concerns about potential abuse, for example, in a domestic violence or stalking situation.

“There are fairly strict laws that prohibit people from tracking anyone other than minors under your control,” Gartner said. “There’s always a potential for abuse with most products, whether it’s prescription drugs, automobiles or guns.”

The $199.99 GTU 10 delivers its whereabouts over AT&T’s wireless network, allowing you to track it on your computer, smart phone or compatible Garmin NuLink devices.

Standard tracking provides “access to 10 points of daily track history” and will cost $49.99 a year after the first year of complimentary service. Deluxe Tracking provides more detail and can access a week’s worth of travel history for the device for $4.99 a month ($59.88 a year)

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/01/21/2601289/new-garmin-tracking-device-raises.html#ixzz1D1FwFIhH

I’m pretty sure my wife would like to have one sewn into my skin, but I’m waiting until a multi-function device can be inserted into my wrist!

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