Is Your Phone Spying On You? - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

04/14/04 - Tyler

Is Your Phone Spying On You?

When Nicky and Tom Pratt want to know where their kids are, there's no need to worry.

Nicky Pratt: "I can just, at any time, see where they are."

The Pratts are using a satellite driven service called Ulocate. It lets mom and dad see their kids' exact location on a cell phone screen or computer map.

"What I like best is peace of mind. I'm comfortable, I know where they are."

Her son, Jason has a GPS-enabled cell phone.

"I know if I forget to call them, they'll be like, I'll know that, at least they know where I am," he says.

Ulocate is just one of several new tracking technologies.

Travis Larson, Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association: "So far, they're proving popular with families, with people who may want to know where they are in an emergency."

Every parent worries about child abduction -- that one day their son or daughter might disappear without a trace.

Danny Bridges is with East Texas Protective Services. In his business, GPS technology has probably already saved lives.

"They tracked down one guy who killed a 7-year-old child, and they used the technology to do that," he says.

Bridges says from employees keeping track of workers, to spouses keeping tabs on each other, technology can be great, but privacy is a big concern.

"I believe it needs to be limited in the release of the information, in the control of the information," he says.

For several years, cell phone companies have been able to approximate customers' locations from their towers, but now the update is real time, and the accuracy is 300 feet.

Still, one of the Pratt's teens feels like his privacy is being invaded. Matthew refuses to carry a location-smart phone.

"Knowing where I am all the time, I guess, it's a little annoying, not like they trust me or anything. So, knowing where I am makes me a little uncomfortable," he says.

That's okay with his parents. So, Matthew's doing it the old-fashioned way and calls home to check in.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.

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