Tracking Human Beings: Privacy vs. Accountability

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The reduction in cost associated with manufacturing electronics has significantly changed every facet of human life and has brought about an era of unprecedented information consumption. Sensory electronics have made the deepest impact, culling information from the surrounding environment while continuously feeding it back through a myriad of filters to create endless lists of statistics. Global businesses have benefited from this massive influx of available data and use biometrics, RFID, and GPS technologies to strategically track assets throughout their entire supply chains. Ultimately these and other emerging technologies give companies the visibility needed to follow and map out profit margins. The United States presently is conducting pilot programs designed to follow human movement and is in the forefront of developing systems to track the country’s assets – human beings. One such plan is currently underway in several states and was implemented to trail the movements of repeat offenders of serious sex crimes. Novel programs akin to these could soon set precedent for keeping tabs on other criminal offenders as well as possibly spill over into the public domain. The wireless phone carrier Boost advertises mobile GPS handsets giving customers the ability to locate friends claiming the service is a social networking tool. Tracking humans is already prevalent and permeates into the public sphere and is quietly demanding attention to its future impact on the global society.


Keywords: Tracking, GPS, Society, Human
Stream: Technology in Community
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: ,


J. Chandler Hora

Graduate Student, Sociology, University of Louisville
Louisville, KY, USA

I currently attend the University of Louisville and I am a second year graduate student in the department of sociology. I completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology, will complete a master’s degree in sociology in 2008, and plan on entering a Ph.D. Business program shortly thereafter. I am fascinated with technology and society and how the two intermingle continuously to shape one another. Also, risk management is another area that is closely related to my love of organizational theory and the conceptual framework of both are fascinating when brought together.

Ref: T08P0361