One normally doesn’t expect a staid, professional publication like the The Wall Street Journal to frighten readers, but they certainly mixed it up in a had a hair-raising article August 5, 2010 titled, “Stalking by Cellphone” by Dustin Scheck. The article tells many bone-chilling anecdotes of abusive spouses who tracked their victims using GPS reporting software and services, resulting in rage events, murder/suicides and a number of other horrid crimes of violence. But there was a flip side to the article where Mr. Scheck wrote how GPS technology has made a difference in kiddnapping cases. Where children who were abducted were found due to their phone’s active GPS chips which enabled for police to find the victum before harm could be inflicted. Even the humble ‘message waiting flag’ can be used to locate a missing family in an Oregon winterscape.
GPS technology both helps law enforcement and parents who claim that “it’s actually used for peace of mind.”
For mobile operators, it is the account holder who is the only authorized person to be able to turn on or off the device’s GPS chip. Once enabled, an Internet site aligns the location of the GPS device on a map, just like in episode after episode of the NCIS TV show. Law enforcement can compel a mobile operator to provide the detail, with the necessary legal request.
If ever there was a case of a technology being used for both good (finding kidnap victims) and for bad (locating the whereabouts of an abuser’s spouse so they could track them down and confront them), GPS is it. GPS tech in phones is certainly a double edge sword and in the right hands can be a very useful thing, but in the wrong hands it can in some cases be deadly.