GPS cell phone tracking and privacy issues

The mobile phone technology may have made communication easier but it has also created new problems. At stake is GPS cell phone tracking and privacy issues. No one would like a third party to track his or her movements.

It was not that this was not possible earlier. But earlier the technology was not so perfect or accurate. The cell phones would continue to broadcast a radio signal even when they were not in use, and cell companies could estimate the user’s location through the triangulation method. However, this was a tedious process and a waste of time for cell companies which got no benefit from such tracking.

But now with GPS devices loaded in most cell phones, the location of anyone can be accurately tracked at all times. This has, of course brought several advantages. Some of these are:

-- Business owners and fleet managers can keep track of their vehicle movements.

-- Police and hospital services can locate the accident spot moments after receiving the call, and save precious lives.

-- Individuals can use their cell phones to locate a place, find an alternative route when lost and even relay information about your ETA to their relatives or children.

-- Cell phone GPS tracking can also be used to locate children and elderly relatives in a hurry, in case they need urgent assistance.

These are all big advantages. But there is a flip side too. No one who is carrying a GPS phone can be away from the eyes of the Big Brother. The tracking can be 24 hours from a remote spot without the user aware of what is being done.

The government has tried to restrict the damage that such technology can cause. That is why it allows carriers to provide tracking information to third parties for e911 emergency calls only; for all other requirements it requires the consent as well as awareness of the cell phone owner.

Even the courts have been firm about the issue. They have flatly refused to allow law enforcement agencies to obtain GPS tracking information from cell phone companies. The information is allowed only when the agencies provide clinching evidence that such tracking will be useful in resolving a criminal case or it is in the interest of the country.

This is good news for the ordinary citizen because it ensures that the advantages pf GPS tracking will not be overshadowed by privacy issues.

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