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Mind the gap folks, here’s Google Latitude

Google's Latitude has been thrust upon an unsuspecting world, to predictable howls from the privacy lobby.

‘Phone software that tracks your physical location is a stalker's charter', they yelp, and ‘Latitude hands over yet more data to Google'.

(Note to self, never, ever think about how much personal info the Big G has on you.)

For all that, we all know that Google Latitude will be used primarily as a benign social-networking tool by the sort of netheads who can't hit the pub without reference to social-networking websites. In other words: your kids, bless ‘em.

Listening to Radio 4 cover Facebook's fifth birthday was terrifying, exposing the yawning chasm that separates our society. On the one side, the presenters, who literally understand the Web 2.0 concept, but don't ‘get it'. On the other, cocksure kids, agog at the idea of a time before the internet fed them who was doing what, when and where.

Given Latitude, and the ability to pinpoint their peers, such children will never need speak to oldies again. We'll be off their radar, literally.

So what? Google Latitude has many potential benefits for parents. You could, for instance, track the whereabouts of your offspring via mobile phone.

Ha! In your dreams, grandad.

So scared is Google of being called a pervert's tool that it's built opt outs for everything. (In Googlespeak, even Latitude's data-sharing functions are called: ‘Privacy Settings'.)

Far from letting Luddites keep tabs on tech-savvy youngsters, then, Latitude allows them to lull you into a false sense of security while they run off to join the Hells Angels.

It has, of course, been this way forever (or at least since the teenager was invented by aliens in a lab in 1950s America). Each generation knows a little more than the last, and slips down the drainpipe each night to dance the night away. Trouble is, as the pace of change grows, the gap gets wider.

What can you do? Not much beyond trusting your kids (don't laugh), and striving hard to keep up with the latest technology. It's Google's world, my friends, we just live in it.

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