No, Google Earth is not a stalker tool (short and lame)

It’s amazing to me that in this day and age people can be so ignorant about technology.

Yesterday I overheard a conversation between two women about how terrible GPS is. Why, they can see your every move! GPS? I asked them if they meant Google Earth. Yep, GPS, Google Earth, whatever. Apparently, some stalker can just watch your house all day, and watch you come and go. I tried to explain that it’s still photos, not streaming video, and that it doesn’t resolve people. Nope. Someone could be stalking me! These idiots (who are not all that, so who the fuck would stalk them in the first place) could not be convinced otherwise. GPS is evil!

Paranoia. It’s not just for breakfast any more.

GPS != Google Earth.

GPS (Global Positioning System) can track people. Car rental companies have used it to see when the vehicles were taken out of state or speeding. GPS has been used by truck companies to monitor their drivers.

GPS is not inherently evil, but if someone has one on their person (or in their car), it can be used for insidious purposes.

It started with the paper-based GPS units: Rand McNally and Thomas Guide continue to publish my exact location for the world to see despite numerous angry letters I’ve written them.

Heh- Google Earth isn’t up to date. Our new apartment shows up as a hole in the ground with some cranes, and it was built 3 years ago!

You know, I really don’t think this is how it works. GPS itself is just a network of sattlelites broadcasting information. Your GPS receiver takes the info from several sattlelites, and, knowing their position and some complicated math, is able to triangulate your exact position based on that.

The only way someone would be able to “track” you with GPS is if your GPS receiver had some sort of transmitter built in in order to send the GPS coordinates back to a central office. This is how I suspect rental car companies and E911 for cell phones work.


Won’t someone think of the children?

It reminds me of how some years ago people were complaining that The Government had satellite cameras that could see right through the walls of your house.

Some of it is a fair bit older still…If you go to M11 3FF, you can see what Man City’s stadium looked like in, ooh, about 2001.

The ones used for tracking do have transmitters. I doubt many people purposefully carry a device showing their location whenever “home-base” wants to know, but it is easily built into cars and trucks…and cell phones. Sprint (I think) has been developing a cell phone ‘for kids’ that will allow parents to constantly monitor their whereabouts on their PC. I saw a demonstration, but don’t know if it is on the market yet.

I’d take you more seriously if you weren’t posting in your underwear right now. And would it kill you to shave once in a while? :wink:

More seriously (Google Earth aside), I do share the concern about GPS units, specifically in automobiles. Years ago in Wired Magazine there was a “gee whiz” look at On-Star. The writer described a typical event: An airbag deployed, triggering an alarm. The On-Star employee asked the driver if they were hurt. The driver replied in the affirmative, and the employee called emergency services and talked with the driver until sirens were heard approaching. Wired was practically orgasmic over the technological implications.

All I could think was “They know where you are, they can talk to you, and they can listen to what you say. And you pay a fee to allow them to do that.”

OK, now that’s just spooky.

But can you tell what I’m wearing over my underwear?

The chip in my head does a much better job at tracking me than Goggle Earth. AND, it can read my thoughts.

I hear tin-foil is good for that…

That’s why I walk around the house naked. Serves them right!

Stand-alone GPS systems, e.g. Magellen, Garmin, Tom-Tom, etc., don’t transmit your information to anyone because they don’t have to. Systems that rely on outside servers to access maps and directions, e.g. OnStar, do transmit your information. There is a critical difference.


Have you heard about those binoculars they sell in the sporting goods shops? Someone across the street can watch what you are doing! They need to regulate the sale of those things!

Likewise. Our house was built in 2004, and the neighborhood is several years older than that. Still, on Google Earth, our address is in the middle of a plowed field. Kinda funny, really. “Look, honey, it’s our house!”

The shot of Soldier Field in Chicago shows it as basically a big hole in the ground. I think the renovation was complete in 2003, so the picture is not super old, but I was actually surprised that a downtown view of a large city would not be more up to date.

The Garmin 60c GPS unit I use for navigation and Geocaching keeps track of your highest rate of speed and has a trackback feature that allows you to see where you have been. (Useful if you get lost hiking and forgot to waypoint where you put the car).

It wouldn’t be necessary for the GPS unit on a rental car to transmit anything. They could just pull it off the unit once you returned the vehicle as part of the check-in.

GPS on your phone is neither all that cutting edge, nor necessarily bad.

Most systems that are used for fleet tracking, or like the Mapquest ones, require you to ALLOW someone permission to see your movements. If you drive for a fleet that puts them in your vehicle, you agree as a condition of employment that they can monitor you.

One of the Google ads in the other threads was for a small GPS unit you could install in your spouse’s car to see where they were going out everyday and figure out if they were cheating on you.