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2 Author(s)
Dobson, J.E. ; Kansas Univ., Lawrence, KS, USA ; Fisher, P.F.

Commercial vendors of human tracking systems tout benefits and diminish, dismiss, or deny any potential for abuse. Indeed, the benefits of location based services (LBS) are myriad, and human tracking is not all bad. However, the countless benefits of LBS are countered by social hazards unparalleled in human history. We explore possibilities for misuse that many would consider unethical. Our principal objectives are to forewarn the public, foster debate, and propose remedies. We focus primarily on hazards, reasoning that benefits get more than their due from commercial advertising, while hazards are ignored by vendors and, all too often, by public officials, as well. We describe the technologies and cite current products to demonstrate that the dangers are real, not imaginary. We illustrate the danger through realistic scenarios of potential enslavement applications. We advocate a rational response that acknowledges the benefits and inevitability of adoption along with an overwhelming need for safeguards. Finally, we propose a remedy that may prevent the most egregious abuses while, simultaneously, preserving most benefits.

Published in:

Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:22 ,  Issue: 1 )

Date of Publication:

Spring 2003

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