google maps

google maps

It’s no secret how much I love when technology can be used in a way that makes my life better.  That is a huge passion of mine.  But the more we allow technology into our lives, we also have to consider the consequences.  Meaning, there’s the possibility that by allowing technology to do something for us, we are potentially exposing ourselves.  In life, we will come up against risks.  Some good, and some bad.  But when we take a risk, we generally have an idea of what two possible outcomes could be.  Where am I going with this?  Well, if we allow technology into our lives in a way that exposes ourselves, are we giving up the ability to take that risk?

To make this a little bit more clear – think of any number of security breaches that occurred over the last year or two.  As individuals, we signed up for the service or signed off on the data sharing.  But in not knowing the true intent of how that data was going to be used, essentially, we gave up that right to take that risk.  Maybe this seems a bit off topic, but I think you’ll see where I’m going with this soon.

Google Maps has added a feature that now shares your battery life with a friend if you share your location with them.  This feature was first discovered about a year ago when it was included as a feature in Google Maps beta for Android.  It’s now available in both iOS and Android and is available outside of the United States. The intention of the feature is to provide information to your friend, in case you’re running late or they can’t get in touch with you and you’re on your way to meet them.  I definitely see the benefit of this from the perspective of a parent, for example.  But outside of that kind of relationship, who really has the right to know where you are and how much battery you have left?

I’m not trying to be skeptical of this feature.  Nor am I trying to suggest that there is something nefarious to this, to begin with.  But I am a little taken aback that this is a feature to begin with.  Yes, you have to give permission to share your location in the first place, but is it also necessary to know your battery status?  Maybe I’m blowing this out of proportion.  Maybe it’s not that big of a deal in the long run, but I don’t necessarily see how this is going to be beneficial outside of the parent example that I suggested above.

Given all the issues we’ve seen with security over the last couple of years, is this a way for someone, somewhere to access your phone and location without you knowing?  That’s not to suggest that anyone other than you and your friend have access to that information.  But it is a question that I think we all should be considering right now, isn’t it?  I for one, doubt I’ll be using this feature, and I’m normally not this skeptical about anything. But for some reason, I’m on high alert right now when it comes to personal privacy and security. Maybe you should be too.