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New Publication: Child Location Tracking in the US and the UK

Published on
24 Nov 2014

Mina Vasalou, Peter van den Besselaar, Ian Brown and I have a new paper out in Surveillance & Society (an international, interdisciplinary, open access, peer-reviewed journal of Surveillance Studies).

Real-time location tracking of individuals has become relatively easy with the widespread availability of commercial wearable devices that use geographical positioning information to provide location-based services. One application of this technology is to allow parents to monitor the location of their children. This paper investigates child location tracking technology in the US and the UK and compares its privacy implications. Although overall the price levels and the technical capabilities are the same, we find that the features of the technology are different depending on the social context. This can be attributed to national regulations and law that shape how a technology can be used. These laws and regulations, influenced by cultural frameworks, values, and morality, differ considerably between the countries. Clarifying the expected impacts of technology on the lives of users and other stakeholders in terms of these contextual factors will help to inform public debate about technical possibilities and societal needs.

Oostveen, A., A. Vasalou, P. v.d. Besselaar and I. Brown (2014) Child Location Tracking in the US and the UK: Same Technology, Different Social Implications. Surveillance & Society. Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 581 – 593.