Google fixes feature to ‘forget’

Google’s new location-reporting service Latitude lets you broadcast where you are to your friends, but it won’t remember where you were, promises Google. I guess this can go into the “not evil” category.

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.

How and when police can turn people’s cell phones into tracking devices remains an unsettled legal question. Increasingly, however, judges are deciding that the government needs to show probable cause that a person committed a crime before it will order a mobile provider to turn over cell tower information, including stored logs.

The government tells courts, almost always in secret proceedings, that it is entitled to location records without a warrant, even if the person involved isn’t even a suspect in an investigation. The government argues you have no privacy interest in the data since you already told it to your phone company.

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