Internet giant Google launched a highly anticipated application earlier this month, but privacy advocates have expressed concerns.
Google Latitude is a location-sharing service that allows people to track other user’s movements. The company promotes it as a product that enables customers to check their friends’ locations and status messages and share their own.
However, according to Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, an organization focused on privacy intrusions by government and businesses, it is "a gift to stalkers, prying employers, jealous partners and obsessive friends."
The organization claims that although Google has made efforts to protect privacy, the application lacks sufficient safeguards to protect users from the tracking technology.
In response to the concerns, Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering for Google’s mobile team, said that "we recognize the sensitivity of location data, so we’ve built fine-grained privacy controls right into the application," as quoted by informationweek.com.
He added, "Everything about Latitude is opt-in. You not only control exactly who gets to see your location, but you also decide the location that they see."
The feature uses GPS, mobile phone towers and wireless network to locate a person’s destination and allows their contacts to view where they are by using their mobile phone or computer through iGoogle.
It is available in 27 countries and will initially work on most color-screen Blackberry phones and most phones with Windows Mobile 5.0.