No need to know

Google Latitude to Cops: ‘I Don’t Remember’

Google is promising that its new location-reporting service Latitude, which lets you broadcast where you are to your friends, will have a memory leak and won’t remember anything.

That’s a feature, not a bug. The intention is to make sure Latitude doesn’t become an honeypot for cops wanting to be able to easily find out where you have been or even say the names of everyone who attended, or was near, a political protest.

The policy, created in consultation with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, puts Latitude on equal privacy footing with Loopt, a popular friend-finding service that predates Latitude. Both services now overwrite your previous location with your new location, and don’t keep logs.

This is very nice, and not too hard to do. Libraries, of course, have been doing this kind of information-protection for decades — in line with ALA principles about the freedom to read without the government looking over your shoulder, typical library circulation systems started being designed early on to lose information about what books a person had taken out, as soon as they were returned.

Wouldn’t it be nice if other databases did the same thing?


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