Vindu Goel, Facebook Is Said to Be in Talks to Buy Waze
Waze, which has more than 40 million users globally, is unusual in that it relies primarily on GPS data and real-time information from its users, who contribute updates on traffic, routes and even where to buy cheap gasoline.
Users of the service also typically share their locations continually as they drive — a potential gold mine of data that would be useful for Facebook as it seeks to serve up targeted ads.
“These people are giving permission for the cloud to track where they are,” said Brian Blau, a research director at Gartner, a technology research firm. “This is a particularly difficult problem for social networks in general. Very few people want to be tracked.”
Facebook currently uses maps from Microsoft’s Bing, but it also has a relationship with Waze. Facebook users can log into Waze using their Facebook accounts and share their location data with their Facebook friends.
Other technology companies, particularly Apple and Google, have also been watching Waze closely and may be interested in a potential acquisition of the start-up to improve their own mobile mapping services.
The story is that the company has been shopped, and they are hoping for a $1B acquisition.
Ignore Blau’s comments: people are willing to be tracked if that data is anonymized, and deleted after the time of it’s utility. The problem arises if the US or other governments start passing laws that allow agencies to force the social tools vendors to provide that data for use in investigations, like the FBI is trying to do with wiretapping on services like Skype.
A disturbing trend, where police will prosecute those that record their public actions based on anti-wiretapping statutes:
Wendy McIlroy, Are Cameras The New Guns?
In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.
Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.
The legal justification for arresting the “shooter” rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where “no expectation of privacy exists” (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.
There is a litany of cases where individuals have been charged with felonies — wiretapping is a federal crime — for recording belligerent police officers overstepping the bounds.
So, here we have a case where the police would like to make public activities — pulling over a driver on a highway, or frisking teenagers on a city street — private, or even secret.
However, citizen souveillance — where bystanders capture police actions via cell phone cameras — have become an important check on police abuse. Consider Rodney King, or the G-20 bystander, Ian Tomlinson, who died after a police beating in London last year.
The US has a fairly deep case law about public recording — no one is required to ask or receive permission to take pictures or video of public places: places where it is generally understood to be public — but the police have a narrow and immoral agenda. They want to conceal their actions, and we really need federal protections. However, in a time when President Obama is holding on to the excesses of Bush’s imperial presidency, don’t expect any action on this front.