Humancentric GPS tracking devices the size of a matchbox are now readily available in the Australian market. They have been used recently to track mentally ill patients in Queensland. And today it was announced that they will also be used to track sex offenders.
For anyone who has studied the diffusion of innovation, one can expect that in the near future most people in society will be carrying such devices for a host of reasons- including medical and car insurance, remuneration for contract work while "on the road", even parental monitoring. These technology exists in about 65% of Australian smartphones, and in a host of Apple "i" technologies although is not customisable to given scenarios as yet.
While the benefits of the technologies currently being released are obvious, the risks and costs associated with using the technologies are currently under-researched. One of the biggest problems in years to come will be the impairment of data/content etc. It will not take long before people realise they can manipulate the very data that comes from these devices, delete records, even obfuscate data so that it looks like they've been somewhere they have not.
Recently I was invited to contribute to a thought-provoking government roundtable on location-based services when a fellow attendee told me that LBS technologies do the same as a private investigator on foot... Actually, this is not exactly true... A private investigator is not a digital alibi and although a PI could misrepresent what he/she has seen/been, it is much easier to fabricate evidence when it is in a digital form...
Barring some technical glitches, GPS trackers provide continuous monitoring to desktop computers and smartphones, informing authorities if offenders are in restricted or high-risk zones.
Authorities would have a powerful tool, similar in effect to CCTV, that places a person at a crime scene."
In fact, it is those very "technical glitches" we should all be concerned about. It is "exceptions" that tell the most interesting of tales...
Time to think about ethics, human rights, privacy and the law... it is not just about personal, community or national security... it is not a simple trade-off as most will lead us to believe.
What next, microchip implants within on-board GPS chipset?