Home Office accused of Phorm collusion


The UK Home Office has been accused of being in bed with Phorm after emails have come to light that show the government asking if the ad-targeting firm would be “comforted” by its position.

The Home Office appears to have been in discussion with the company over the advice it was drawing up for the public in relation to targeted advertising, though it has denied that it has provided “any advice to Phorm directly relating to possible criminal liability for the operation of their advertising platform in the UK”.

The emails, which were obtained by a member of the public following a freedom of information request, show Phorm repeatedly asking the department if it “has no objection to the marketing and operation of the Phorm product in the UK”.

Liberal Democrat spokeswoman on Home Affairs, Baroness Sue Miller, said:

“My jaw dropped when I saw the Freedom of Information exchanges. The fact the Home Office asks the very company they are worried is actually falling outside the laws whether the draft interpretation of the law is correct is completely bizarre.”

Meanwhile, the company has launched a website – http://www.stopphoulplay.com/ – which it says aims to stop the misinformation surrounding the technology.

Phorm (via BBC)

GPS gets 25% smaller, thanks to Epson


Epson’s Infineon XPOSYS chip is 25% smaller than any other A-GPS chip on the market, measuring just 2.8 x 2.9mm. That’s about the same size as a matchhead, as you can see in the picture.

The new smaller chip will also consume half as much power, meaning that location-based features will start becoming common on even the cheapest handsets. Will you ever be able to hide from anyone ever again? If this trend continues, then it’s unlikely.

I wrote an editorial the other day explaining why that doesn’t bother me. If you’re interested, then you can read that here. In the meantime, how much does being tracked bother you? Share your opinion below.

(via Engadget)

OPINION: Here's what I want from Google Latitude


I don’t really care about privacy. I recognise the fact that other people do, but I don’t have anything to hide. Add that to the fact that I’m not especially interesting, and that I’ve been on the internet so long, and have such a unique name, that there’s a lot of me out there already.

That’s why I’m not bothered by commenters saying that Latitude is a massive privacy invasion. For me, the social proprioception offered by Latitude far outweighs the downsides of having my location available to my friends.

Google Maps for Mobile gets an update – with friend tracking!


There’s probably something wrong with the fact that I get little buzzes of excitement when mobile apps that I use get an update. This morning’s Google Maps for Mobile update was even buzzier than normal, though, because it introduced a new feature that people have been clamoring for for some time.

The new version of Google Maps for Mobile features a service called Latitude, which uses the GPS in your phone to track your location, and the location of your friends, much like Yahoo’s Fire Eagle service. You can see exactly where your pals are hiding out, and there’s plenty of built-in privacy control too.

GPS for Skiiers is more than just an avalanche tracker


If you’re a skiier, you’ll know the value of not getting trapped under an avalanche, but most decent skiing jackets these days come with GPS in them, for those ‘just in case’ situations. Why do you need a dedicated GPS unit, then? Because Flaik, the company who makes it, has gone all Web 2.0 and tacked on a social network.

Despite Flaik’s website not being properly launched yet, and being epically broken in Chrome, it seems that the GPS unit will let you do all kinds of crazy stuff like running real-time competitions against people you don’t know, tracking the location of individual skiiers, and calculating run-by-run and day-by-day statistics.

Obviously this is for hardcore skiiers only, and there’s no word of price, but it apparently launched last month in Colorado. If anyone’s able to provide any more info, then drop us an email, because this looks like it could be fun.

Flaik (via CrunchGear)

Related posts: Wii Skii: Nintendo to release ‘Family Ski’ – proper use for the balance board | Shiny Video Preview: Satski’s GPS system for skiing trips

Carbon Hero – track your carbon footprint on your phone, no guitars in sight


Carbon footprints are difficult. They’ve received a lot of attention in the press, and they’re firmly stamped (no pun intended) on the public psyche, but they’re not actually very accurate. Given the complexity of power generation in modern life, it’s something that’s incredibly difficult to calculate, and very easy to underestimate.

This device, the Carbon Hero, was designed by an art graduate named Andreas Zachariah. It tracks your phone signal, and if you’re moving at train-ish speed, on a train track, then it assumes you’re on a train, works out the distance you travel, and gives you a number for your carbon footprint. Simple, right? Well, there’s about a billion things wrong with the idea…