Did you ever call in sick and then go hang out with friends? Were you ever supposed to call on clients, but decided to go to a movie instead? Did you ever ¬ìforget¬î to tell your boss that a business lunch has been canceled, and then go out to lunch with your spouse? If you got away with this kind of thing in the past, forget about it. Your days of tricking your boss are over.
People probably called you ¬ìparanoid¬î if you were someone who was positive that ¬ìthey¬î always know where we are. Guess what? You¬íre not paranoid anymore. ¬ìThey¬î do know where you are. Our friends at Google have come up with a smart phone app that will allow your boss to be able to see where you are at all times. Called ¬ìMaps Coordinate,¬î this little devil of innovation is part of a paid business version of Google¬ís map program. An employer can just sit back and watch where his employees go and how long they stay there.
Of course, Google doesn¬ít describe this as a way for bosses to spy on workers. They say that the purpose of the device is to help assign jobs and decide who goes where ¬ìmore efficiently.¬î Right. And social networking sites don¬ít sell your information to other companies.
Google tested this product on government agencies. If it could be limited to government employees, I probably wouldn¬ít think it was such a bad idea. We could finally find out where members of Congress actually go when they¬íre supposed to be voting on an important bill or when they say they¬íre on the Appalachian Trail.
Unfortunately, this device won¬ít just be used to keep an eye on politicians. Pizza delivery guys were another test group. That¬ís really going too far. What kind of country will we be living in if pizza delivery guys can¬ít goof off on the job?
Google can talk all it wants about how this will make companies more efficient and therefore more profitable. However, that ignores the negative economic impact of this thing. For example, one economic sector that will be hit hard is the sleazy motel industry.
There¬ís another reason to hate these eyes of Big Brother. If it can be used for business purposes, what¬ís to stop it from being used in our personal lives? Won¬ít boyfriends, girlfriends, and spouses be able to track people down, too?
Young people who actually understand how these things work are probably laughing at me for being concerned about a little app. Let me remind you who scoff that there is another group that will certainly want this device — parents. Do you really want them to know where you go when you say that you can¬ít go to dinner with them because you have to go to a friend¬ís house to study?
It¬ís because of these very same young people that I¬ím confident that this won¬ít be a problem soon. They can make a computer jump through hoops while they watch the latest video of a baby trying to change his own diaper. So some smart computer whizzes will come up with programs to disable things like this Google Snoop. In the meantime, I¬íll just continue to write my column here in this dusty old library. Or am I at the beach? I¬íll bet ¬ìthey¬î know.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from ¬ìSesame Street¬î to ¬ìFamily Ties¬î to ¬ìHome Improvement¬î to ¬ìFrasier.¬î He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his website at lloydgarver.com and his podcasts on iTunes.