By Kim Niemi, Vice Ghost, Digital Media Ghost
Whether it’s the Patriot Act or creepy ads that pop up in your social feed after visiting a retail site, you don’t need the reminder you’re being watched all the time. Or do you? Sometimes tracking technology is pretty convenient to your life – and that’s the flip side you’re not considering. Here’s why you should.
Locking in on the signal
Though we haven’t achieved Star Trek transporter beam level technology just yet, we do have options for tracking items in motion, or finding objects gone missing.
When your car has been stolen, Lojack can tell you where it is – even providing an early warning if someone is driving your car without your designated keychain fob inside (a good sign they’re not YOU).
Similarly, pets can be microchipped so that when lost or stolen, owner information on the chip can be retrieved by shelters or animal rescue officers – even if your pet’s collar and tags have been removed.
And of course we’ve all seen TV shows where a car or cell phone’s built-in GPS history has been used to crack the case. It may seem far-fetched, but it’s not.
Making sure mobile is safe
Speaking of cell phones, can anyone imagine living or working without one at this point? One of the best advantages mobile devices offer is the freedom to connect from anywhere, at any time – both personally and for work purposes. But with that freedom must come precautions to keep sensitive data safe.
Businesses who want to provide employees with remote access to company files via the cloud, must have mobile device management (MDM) software in place to ensure that company data can’t be hacked or otherwise tampered with.
Especially if employees are using their own devices versus those provided by the company.
MDM software can serve other purposes as well – like scanning barcodes to track inventory at various points in the supply chain. Again, the good kind of tracking.
The merits of geo-fencing
Another mobile tool that many make use of nowadays is geo-fencing. Geo-fencing allows users to set up a defined location range (fence) which sends an alert any time an activated device enters (or exits) that fence.
This is how a taxi dispatcher can track vehicles, for example. Or how a department store knows to send you a coupon when you’re within a certain radius of one of their locations. Many consumers claim to dislike this sort of monitoring – but with the right offer and the right timing, they often warm up. Retailers can only get better at this.
In the meantime, mobile users may not like it when they’re the presumed target of government or retailer spying, but they have no problem using the same technology if it helps them keep tabs on their employees, or even their children.
So in the end it comes down to intent. When the monitoring is for a noble purpose – privacy/security – it’s much more acceptable. But we’re still early in the game with much of this technology. The more we see it working well on a variety of fronts, the more acceptable it will become all around.
Just like real life siblings, Big Brother can evolve from annoying know-it-all to trusted companion.
About the Author: Kim Niemi is Vice Ghost at Digital Media Ghost. She has managed the creation of original content for numerous clients, with particular expertise in the variety of styles demanded by the legal profession. She is currently focused on alerting Webizens to the dangers of Social Sabotage and is co-authoring a book on the topic.