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Print 26 comment(s) - last by Aeros.. on Apr 19 at 1:44 AM

AT&T launches new tracking service

AT&T has launched a new FamilyMap service aimed at letting subscribers monitor other phone lines on the same wireless account using cell tower triangulation technology.  

Monitoring can take place via cell phone or PC, and the person who is tracked receives a free text message alerting them to the fact someone is watching.  However, the phone account's principal owner controls whether or not a text message is sent out to the phone being monitored.  

Furthermore, there is a built-in scheduling feature, allowing parents to see if their children are home by a certain time.  Periodic text message reminders are sent out to each phone on the plan to remind them they're being monitored using the service.

"AT&T FamilyMap is a terrific tool to help busy families keep track of each other, as well as a great way to check up on loved ones for any reason, such as to touch base with elderly family members," AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets VP Mark Collins said in a statement.  "More than 60 percent of AT&T Wireless customers are part of a family plan or multiple line account, so there's a considerable number of our subscribers whom we believe will find this service beneficial."

Interested users can sign up for a free 30-day trial; then it costs $9.99 per month for two phones, or $14.99 per month for up to five phones.  The service isn't available for prepaid or AT&T Go Phones and uses cell tower triangulation to keep tabs on a phone's location. The system is also compatible with Assisted GPS (A-GPS) which can provide more accurate results.

Even though AT&T obviously has an optimistic view of the technology, there are journalists and others who are worried this is a bit too much like big brother watching over subscribers.

Despite the worry of unintentional tracking, Verizon Wireless, Alltel, and Sprint Nextel all have similar tracking services available to interested subscribers.



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This better not be a hit service
By ninus3d on 4/17/2009 9:27:55 AM , Rating: 2
It scares me that this will look like a great product for a lot of parents but I cant help feeling this is a wrong direction.

Why cant the parent be around there kids more instead?

If this goes on for much longer when will "failed parenting" instead be "failure from technology" with things the same way many blames violence among kids on computer games instead of the parents?

I really don't like this :( Sorry




RE: This better not be a hit service
By Aloonatic on 4/17/2009 9:40:29 AM , Rating: 3
Like the fascination that people have for monitoring and logging their own activities thought sites like twitter and facebook, this is another cost saving measure that, as a UK taxpayer, I welcome.

We are clearly moving towards living in a surveillance "Big Brother" society so if people are willing to track themselves and each other it will at least mean that my taxes might be kept a little lower.

PS. I love Gordon Brown. All hail The Leader.

*Chants "The leader is good, the leader is great, we surrender our will, as of this date"*


RE: This better not be a hit service
By ninus3d on 4/17/2009 9:48:37 AM , Rating: 2
I presume you have read a rather darn good book by George Orwell? :]


By Aloonatic on 4/17/2009 12:17:29 PM , Rating: 3
Of course :)

The truly chilling part of the political situation in the UK is that we really seem to have a government that is interested in governing simply because they want to govern, not because they want what is best for the country, they just like the power and control and will do anything to keep it. We don't have a jackboot (just yet) stamping on the face of the proletariat, we have Jackie Smith's stilettos stamping on the face of the electorate, but we are getting there. Forget the obvious parallels with the CCTV cameras, snooping powers and such, the blatant lust for power for powers sake is what is really quite scary about New Labour.

For a laugh, just check out the recent news about the lengths that New Labour are willing to go to to cling onto power. You might just find it amusing, assuming you are safely ensconced in an actually democracy somewhere overseas.


By HakonPCA on 4/17/2009 11:58:59 AM , Rating: 2
NaNaNaNaNaNaNaNaNaNaNa.....batman....I mean....leader


RE: This better not be a hit service
By rudolphna on 4/17/2009 9:45:11 AM , Rating: 4
This is for kids who go off doing whatever they want without permission. (ie parties, sneaking out at night, truancy etc) So the parents (or police) know where to find them to bring them home. This has nothing to do with parents not spending enough time with their kids. Teens will be teens, and will do what teens want. Unless we want to resort to locking them up and throwing away the key, I dont think we can ever hope to control teenagers' behavior.


By ninus3d on 4/17/2009 9:53:41 AM , Rating: 3
Okay, sorry but wow... the ramifications here.

How about we just make this help out law enforcement even more for the benefit of the great nations.
We have these ID cards with info about you, legally require you to wear these cards and make the cards traceable.

Read up on history and we quickly see why this is a dreadful idea.

Yet, that is far away from the current issue though we still need to set a border somewhere and I personally believe allowing monitoring like this to become something as trivial as a parenting tool as way above that border.

Just my opinion though.


RE: This better not be a hit service
By acase on 4/17/2009 10:42:32 AM , Rating: 2
Yah because a teen that is sneaking out at night won't just leave their phone at home in their room so they think he is sleeping. Which really, would make this a more unsafe practice if kids are running around without phones for contact in case of emergencies.


RE: This better not be a hit service
By Schrag4 on 4/17/2009 11:50:49 AM , Rating: 3
I'm not a big advocate of the 'help your teen break rules so that they're safer while they do it' mentality. If they want to sneak out at night, fine, but they won't have a phone (from my limited understanding, that's a big deal to teenage kids nowadays). You know, I didn't have a phone when I snuck out as a teenager and I ended up just fine :-P

Anyway, I understand the privacy concerns, but this is optional. And if a teenager wants to have a phone AND have their privacy, they can pay for their own service. At least you know they have SOME inkling of responsibility if they're footing their own cell phone bill...


RE: This better not be a hit service
By metasin on 4/17/2009 12:44:46 PM , Rating: 3
I could not agree more. I have this service for my teenage daughter. She is aware that we can track her and is more than welcome to leave the phone at home. She can still go out but we will be more lenient (stay out later, etc.) if she has the phone with her.
Totally voluntary. It is not as if the government is requiring that we track our children.


RE: This better not be a hit service
By goku on 4/17/09, Rating: -1
By callmeroy on 4/17/2009 10:14:21 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not surprised, nor should any of us be, that something like this was coming down the pike.

I can understand the concern of these steps but considering all someone needs to get a hold of is your address (which is not hard to do) and they have mapping services that will bring ANYONE right to your doorstep (some even showing them nice purty pictures of your exact street and neighborhood along the way)....its a bit late to start worrying about tracking cell phones (which has been out well before this service).

Big brother, is here to stay ---I'm not happy to say that but its the way we are heading to with increasing speed.


Great
By smackababy on 4/17/2009 9:26:49 AM , Rating: 2
Now, without taping my phone to the bottom of her car, I can track my fiance's every move like the stalker I am!

But, what happens if someone were to turn their phone off? No more triangulation? And if a small amount of power is used to keep the signal, what about removing the battery?




RE: Great
By callmeroy on 4/17/2009 10:17:54 AM , Rating: 2
Well have fun with your fiance and stalking her.....um I mean no that's probably wrong.....:)

ANYWAY as far as the use for kids --- I say make it a simple rule ...."If we lose signal for more than x amount of time, you are grounded for x amount of time"....or using the same logic to draft whatever punishment you deem fit or proper...


RE: Great
By Drexial on 4/17/2009 2:09:18 PM , Rating: 2
I have actually already thought about using this for an in-car computer. Set up a tethering data plan so I can access live traffic and use Google maps and such. Plus if my car ever gets stolen I can find it within a few blocks.


GPS
By Alphafox78 on 4/17/2009 9:08:19 AM , Rating: 2
its not technically GPS if it uses cell phone tower triangulation.. if it looks anything like the first iphone triangulation in maps its doesnt give you a very accurate measurement of where you are. it can be off by quite a bit. (aGPS?)




RE: GPS
By Aloonatic on 4/17/2009 9:15:54 AM , Rating: 2
Doesn't GPS simply mean Global Positioning System? Which (I'm guessing) can mean any system used to positon things on the globe?

The confusion between satellite and phone-tower GPS systems seems to be something that the mobile phone industry are happy to allow to happen as they are happy for people to associate their offerings with the more accurate satellite based systems.


By Aeros on 4/19/2009 1:36:12 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
AT&T Introduces FamilyMap Tracking Service for Parents


All I can Say is "finally". Gonna' be real usefull when baby-boomers get all feeble-minded, wanderin' round.

It's three o'clock: Do you know where your parents are?!?

And for those worried about "big-brother", all you have to do is wrap a wet towel around your head - that blocks the signal.




By Aeros on 4/19/2009 1:44:59 AM , Rating: 2
Hah! Using AT&T's service caused multi-posts, talk bout insult to injury.


You see..
By goku on 4/17/2009 2:18:07 PM , Rating: 2
Now I don't feel so stupid for turning OFF my cellphone after all!




By Aeros on 4/19/2009 1:36:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
AT&T Introduces FamilyMap Tracking Service for Parents


All I can Say is "finally". Gonna' be real usefull when baby-boomers get all feeble-minded, wanderin' round.

It's three o'clock: Do you know where your parents are?!?

And for those worried about "big-brother", all you have to do is wrap a wet towel around your head - that blocks the signal.




By Aeros on 4/19/2009 1:36:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
AT&T Introduces FamilyMap Tracking Service for Parents


All I can Say is "finally". Gonna' be real usefull when baby-boomers get all feeble-minded, wanderin' round.

It's three o'clock: Do you know where your parents are?!?

And for those worried about "big-brother", all you have to do is wrap a wet towel around your head - that blocks the signal.




By Aeros on 4/19/2009 1:36:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
AT&T Introduces FamilyMap Tracking Service for Parents


All I can Say is "finally". Gonna' be real usefull when baby-boomers get all feeble-minded, wanderin' round.

It's three o'clock: Do you know where your parents are?!?

And for those worried about "big-brother", all you have to do is wrap a wet towel around your head - that blocks the signal.




By Aeros on 4/19/2009 1:36:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
AT&T Introduces FamilyMap Tracking Service for Parents


All I can Say is "finally". Gonna' be real usefull when baby-boomers get all feeble-minded, wanderin' round.

It's three o'clock: Do you know where your parents are?!?

And for those worried about "big-brother", all you have to do is wrap a wet towel around your head - that blocks the signal.




By Aeros on 4/19/2009 1:36:09 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
AT&T Introduces FamilyMap Tracking Service for Parents


All I can Say is "finally". Gonna' be real usefull when baby-boomers get all feeble-minded, wanderin' round.

It's three o'clock: Do you know where your parents are?!?

And for those worried about "big-brother", all you have to do is wrap a wet towel around your head - that blocks the signal.




By Aeros on 4/19/2009 1:36:09 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
AT&T Introduces FamilyMap Tracking Service for Parents


All I can Say is "finally". Gonna' be real usefull when baby-boomers get all feeble-minded, wanderin' round.

It's three o'clock: Do you know where your parents are?!?

And for those worried about "big-brother", all you have to do is wrap a wet towel around your head - that blocks the signal.




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