Private Private

Continuing the terrible titles, this is a take on Catch-22, for no particular reason other than being able to play on the word “private”. Think yourselfs lucky I didn’t choose the schoolboy route and go with “Show us yer privates”.

Oddly the only reason I’m writing about this is because Twitter is currently dead, if it wasn’t then my comment on the issue would’ve been something along the lines of “@plasticbag – nice pic on BBC website! And don’t some people get in a tizzy sometimes..”.

At this point I should probably explain that I’m talking about the recently opened Fire Eagle service which

“… stores information about your location. With your permission, other services and devices can either update that information or access it. By helping applications respond to your location, Fire Eagle is designed to make the world around you more interesting! Use your location to power friend-finders, games, local information services, blog badges and stuff like that…”
[from Fire Eagle help page]

It’s a smart idea, and one which plays nicely into the fact my iPhone has GPS built-in so I can ping exact location information back to the Fire Eagle website at any time I choose. Clever.

But, of course, the privacy nutters (I use the term advisedly) have leapt all over this, stating that locational information could be stored by any of the 3rd party websites or applications that use Fire Eagle and then they’ll know where you have been!

Don’t get me wrong, I realise such things could be abused but from what I can make out Fire Eagle has considered such things. For starters they let you control the level of granularity of the geographic information that you share with other services, from pinpoint co-ordinates to a “I’m near this city” level location. Whilst you can purge your current location from the service at anytime, the privacy busters are more concerned about the historical information that could be stored.

Now I can see that will be an issue for some people, and that having a system know where you’ve been is worrying as it will, no doubt be used to guess where you will be at a given time and then… umm… yeah. Not sure what happens then.

Worse is the possibility of a hi-tec burglar watching out for your location changing before breaking and entering your house. These days I’d guess it’s not that hard to find an address for someone who looks rich, use Google maps to get the geographic co-ordinates of their home and then just wait until they update Fire Eagle with a new location (hey hang on, that DOES sound simple, eep!!).

Or, you know, if you are worried about it DON’T USE IT!!

And no, I’m sorry but the argument of “some people won’t know any better” doesn’t cut it. If they don’t know any better why are they signing up for a service they don’t understand? The Fire Eagle website does a pretty good job of telling people what it is all about so perhaps we need to shift a little responsibility on to the individual?

I’m sure some of you have stronger opinions on this topic than I do, I’d love to hear them. But be prepared to be mocked for, if I’m honest, I really don’t believe the end of the world is nigh because someone knows where I am.