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Google CEO: Phone tracking to enrich lives

May 17, 2011


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Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt came out to defend tracking technology in smartphones arguing the technology will ultimately enrich and benefit the lives of consumers.

Recent debates regarding privacy have surfaced following the discovery of tracking files native to Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android mobile operating system.

Today, you’re phone knows who you are, where you are, where you’re going, to some degree, because it can see your path. And with that and with your permission, it’s possible for software and software developers to predict where you’re going to go, to suggest people you should meet, to suggest activities and so forth,” he said. “So ultimately what happens is the mobile phone does what it does best, which is remember everything and make suggestions.”

Allowing your phone to know you, follow you and help you will allow users to enjoy their social experience more, he contended. The experience of will become increasingly personal and more fulfilling.

The computer will suggest things that you might be interested in,” Schmidt said. “Since I’m a history buff, if I’m walking down here in the street, it will tell me the history of the area or it will tell me about something that I might be interested in.”

Many privacy advocates have become increasingly worried about tracking software in smartphone’s which record s and remembers a users movements. Both Apple and Google have contended that the programs are designed to aid the phone’s user – not track. Some remain are skeptical given Schmidt’s past remarks on privacy.

If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place,” he once infamously stated.

People have the right to know who is getting their information and how information is shared and used,” said US Senator Al Franken, who recently held a Senate hearing on the matter. “I still have serious doubts those rights are being respected in law or in practice. This is an urgent issue.

Apple has issued a software update to alter tracking storage information and Google’s tracking software is currently an opt-in program. Nevertheless privacy advocates, including Franken, argue more must be done.

He contends that tracking data puts users at risk and could endanger – not benefit – their lives and more must be done to protect their privacy.

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