Google Maps now lets oth­ers keep tabs on you

Friends, fam­ily can track your where­abouts at all times if you want.

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS - Google Sears

Google Maps users will soon be able to broad­cast their move­ments to friends and fam­ily the lat­est test of how much pri­vacy peo­ple are will­ing to sac­ri­fice in an era of ram­pant shar­ing.

The lo­ca­tion-mon­i­tor­ing fea­ture be­gan rolling out Wed­nes­day in an up­date to the Google Maps mo­bile app, which is al­ready in­stalled on most of the world’s smart­phones. It will also be avail­able on per­sonal com­put­ers.

Google be­lieves the new tool will be a more con­ve­nient way for peo­ple to let some­one know where they are with­out hav­ing to text or call them. The Moun­tain View, Cal­i­for­nia, com­pany has set up the con­trols so in­di­vid­u­als can de­cide with whom they want to share their where­abouts and for how long — any­where from a few min­utes to in­def­i­nitely.

But lo­ca­tion shar­ing in one of the world’s most pop­u­lar apps could cause fric­tion in mar­riages and other re­la­tion­ships if one part­ner de­mands to know where the other is at all times. Sim­i­lar ten­sions could arise if par­ents in­sist their teenagers turn on the lo­ca­tion-shar­ing op­tion be­fore they go out.

It could also be turned into a way to stalk some­one en­tan­gled in an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship, warned Ruth Glenn, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the National Coali­tion Against Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence.

“It has the po­ten­tial to be an­other tool in an abuser’s toolkit,” she said.

Sim­i­lar track­ing is al­ready avail­able on other apps; Glympse, founded by for­mer Mi­crosoft em­ploy­ees, has of­fered this func­tion for years. Al­though it isn’t as wide-rang­ing, Ap­ple also of­fers a track­ing op­tion called “Find My Friends” on its iPhone, iPad

Sears, a back-to-school shop­ping des­ti­na­tion for gen­er­a­tions of kids and the place new­ly­weds went to choose ap­pli­ances, has said that af­ter years of los­ing money that there is “sub­stan­tial doubt” it will be able to keep its doors open.

It’s a dra­matic ac­knowl­edg­ment from the chain that owns Sears and Kmart stores, which has long held fast to its stance that a turn­around is pos­si­ble, even as many of its shop­pers have moved on to Wal-Mart, Tar­get or Ama­zon.

Sears has sur­vived of late mainly with mil­lions in loans fun­neled through the hedge

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