Follow a live UPS delivery on Google Maps …

… then watch as the sender and recipient get dragged down to Gitmo and face charges of terrorism. (I suppose I should have said “OR face charges of terrorism”)
Google Maps Mania had a post on it today, where a fan of the site sent a cell phone by UPS, then left the GPS active, so it could be traced via a live web page:
“‘Where’s Tim’ tracks the current location of Tim Hibbard using a phone loaded with GPS software and Google Maps and Earth. When I mentioned this to Tim Hibbard, he decided to send me a phone pre-loaded with the software and a data plan from Nextel to make the presentation more interesting. That’s not the cool part. He “forgot” to turn off phone as he packed it into the box and it’s STILL ON reporting its position during its shipment.”
Sure, sounds cool enough, but if being on GMM wasn’t enough notoriety for this act, the post also got picked up by Now a bunch of people are aware of a really high profile security violation, which throws into question the whole effectiveness of the U.S.’s Homeland Security Dept. This is not good, especially with the recent terrorist arrests up here in Canada, and over in the U.K., home of the Lockerby disaster. Shipping an active cell phone is stupid and a big security risk; not finding it and allowing it to be shipped is even more stupid, and a, even greater security risk.
One Digg reader astutely pointed out this real problem:
“Lockerby was (IIRC) a radio (switched on) sent via a courier company, connected to a bomb. Definitely here in the UK, all that was supposed to have stopped as a security risk. After 9-11, what the hell are UPS doing delivering a live and connected electronic device? When I sent a mobile phone the courier co. disconnected the battery. Suppose, in another package on the truck, sent by A.N. Other, was a little well-concealed explosive with a sonic or otherwise-triggered detonator. One correctly timed – GPS, airport anyone..? – phone call to the mobile and kaboom, max damage.”
So I’m helping fan the flames, in a way. By commenting on this little incident, I’m simultaneously pointing out weaknesses in the system and hoping they will be addressed in the future. I’ve never liked the idea of GPSes being built into cell phones with no way of turning them off, save removing the batteries, yet my issues stemmed around the concept of user privacy. This is not the kind of thing I thought about when I first purchased my Kyocera.
Currently the site’s being pounded by visitors. I’m sure I didn’t have to do anything to draw more traffic to it.

One Response to “Follow a live UPS delivery on Google Maps …

  • I had no idea the kind of publicity this was going to get. I was shipping the phone to Mike anyways and thought to myself…why not, let’s see what happens.