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    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    Reuters - Google launches software to track mobile users

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    Google launches software to track mobile users

    Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 3:21AM UTC

    BANGALORE (Reuters) - Google Inc released software on Wednesday that allows users of mobile phones and other wireless devices to automatically share their whereabouts with family and friends.

    Users in 27 countries will be able to broadcast their location to others constantly, using Google Latitude. Controls allow users to select who receives the information or to go offline at any time, Google said on its website.

    "Fun aside, we recognize the sensitivity of location data, so we've built fine-grained privacy controls right into the application," Google said in a blog post announcing the service.

    "You not only control exactly who gets to see your location, but you also decide the location that they see."

    Friends' whereabouts can be tracked on a Google map, either from a handset or from a personal computer.

    Google's new service is similar to the service offered by privately-held Loopt.

    Companies including Verizon Wireless, owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc, already offer Loopt's service, which also works on iPhone from Apple Inc.

    Latitude will work on Research In Motion Ltd's Blackberry and devices running on Symbian S60 devices or Microsoft Corp's Windows Mobile and some T-1 Mobile phones running on Google's Android software.

    The software will eventually run on Apple's iPhone and iTouch and many Sony Ericsson devices.

    In 2005, Google acquired, but subsequently shut down, a location-finding service that used text messaging to keep mobile phone users aware of their friends' proximity.

    (Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran, editing by Dan Lalor)

    Reuters - Nine-year old whiz-kid writes iPhone application

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    Nine-year old whiz-kid writes iPhone application

    Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 2:46AM UTC

    SINGAPORE (Reuters) - While most children his age sketch on paper with crayons, nine-year old Lim Ding Wen from Singapore, has a very different canvas -- his iPhone.

    Lim, who is in fourth grade, writes applications for Apple's popular iPhone. His latest, a painting program called Doodle Kids, has been downloaded over 4,000 times from Apple's iTunes store in two weeks, the New Paper reported on Thursday.

    The program lets iPhone users draw with their fingers by touching the iPhone's touchscreen and then clear the screen by shaking the phone.

    "I wrote the program for my younger sisters, who like to draw," Lim said. His sisters are aged 3 and 5.

    Lim, who is fluent in six programing languages, started using the computer at the age of 2. He has since completed about 20 programing projects.

    His father, Lim Thye Chean, a chief technology officer at a local technology firm, also writes iPhone applications.

    "Every evening we check the statistics emailed to us (by iTunes) to see who has more downloads," the older Lim said.

    The boy, who enjoys reading books on programing, is in the process of writing another iPhone application -- a science fiction game called "Invader Wars."

    (Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

    Portfolio Mobile - Google Execs on Trial in Italy

    Google Execs on Trial in Italy

    Ars Technica reports: Google's global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer is about to go on trial in Italy thanks to a questionable video uploaded by an Italian teenager in 2006. He and three other Google executives will appear before the Criminal Court of Milan Tuesday in order to face the charges, which include defamation and failure to exercise control over personal data. If the court finds them guilty, Fleischer and his colleagues could face prison time, all because of a video that was uploaded to their company's servers by someone else.

    It all began in 2006 with a group of bored teenagers who had a video-capable cell phone. The teens decided to harass another youth with Down Syndrome, both verbally and by hitting him on the head with a box of tissues. They recorded video of the abuse and then put the video online using Google Video Italia.

    The three-minute video itself had an extremely short lifespan on Google Video Italia; complaints were quickly lodged and it was pulled within a couple of hours. But an Italian Down Syndrome support group called Vivi Down apparently decided that it should never have appeared in the first place. The group filed a complaint that resulted in a two-year investigation; eventually, Milan public prosecutor Francesco Cajani agreed that the Google execs had violated Italian law by allowing the video to be uploaded in the first place.

    At the time, the next series of events was just rumor, but Fleischer confirmed to the International Association of Privacy Professionals (via /.) that he was approached by law enforcement officials while he was en route to a speaking engagement at the University of Milan in January of 2008. The officers, who had been waiting for him, allowed him to do his talk before taking him to a deposition about the case.

    According to Italian law, Internet service providers are not liable for content posted by users. However, Internet content providers are, in fact, held responsible for the content that they "publish"?this category includes TV and newspapers, and now, according to Cajani, Google. Obviously, Google disagrees with this differentiation. "We cannot agree with the concept that a tool can be blamed for the use that is made of it," a spokesperson told the IAPP.

    Google has zero interest in letting this case set what would be a chilling precedent. The company is protected by safe harbor provisions in the US, but clearly faces a patchwork of local regulations overseas. The company will undoubtedly try to find something in EU laws that will both clear it in the Italian case and ensure that other countries in the Union can't hit it with similar charges.

    For now, however, Fleischer and the three other executives are in for several months of proceedings before the court makes a decision on their fate. Google, for its part, has been compliant with Italian law and has responded to requests in a timely manner, and appears confident that things will go well. "We are confident the process will end in our favor," Google Italia's public policy counsel Marco Pancini said. If it doesn't, we could be looking at a chilling reality, one where operators of user-generated video sites could be held liable for videos posted by their users, possibly necessitating human screening of each upload.
    by Jacqui ChengRelated Links
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