Loopt – Real Life Online

So, I stood in line with my many compatriots last Friday at the Apple store to get the new 3G iPhone from Apple, which, by the way, is way cool.  One of the really nice features of the phone is the ability to download specially designed applications that take advantage of particular characteristics of the iPhone, like its ability to vibrate, the fact that the phone can determine its orientation using a built in gyroscope, and, here, the fact that the phone in combination with GPS, knows where it is in the world.

So, being adventurous and a geek, I took a look at some of the applications available for use.  One, Loopt, is a social networking application that allows you to publish your physical location, in near real-time, based on the GPS locator built into your iPhone.  And as a consequence, you make this information available to other Loopt users (and, in theory, to the police that have a warrant and knock on Loopt’s door for their logs).  It is like a stalker’s dream come true, or perhaps a dream come true for the people that drafted the Patriot Act!  I guess it might be actually useful if terrorists were the target market for the iPhone, and are the kind of people that use social networking sites to exchange bomb-making recipes, but for the normal consumer, this is kind of whack.

Needless to say, I did not accept the terms of service to join the system.  Maybe I’ll change my mind after I install those fully transparent glass walls in my home and stop wearing clothes as a matter of course.

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Maryland technology attorney and college professor.

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