Feeds

Yahoo! knows! where! you! are!

Fire Eagle takes off

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Yahoo's punter-locating database officially launched yesterday and already has privacy advocates in a flap, despite offering users complete control as well as expecting them to lie every now and then.

Fire Eagle is a free central service to which punters can subscribe and maintain their current location. Services then subscribe to it in order to become location-optimised - so one updates Fire Eagle to say one is in the Highlands and any site that integrates with the service can pick up that information to deliver Highland-specific information.

The granularity of information supplied to services is under control of the user, so I might provide Fire Eagle with my SatNav coordinates, but only want my current postcode passed on. I can also refuse to provide detailed information, switch off the service when I want some privacy, or even lie about where I am - Yahoo makes great play of providing a service, not spying on anyone.

Punters will also be sent a reminder every 45 days to confirm they still want to share their location, and Yahoo! say they'll delete all historical data immediately - though they can't make the same promise about services using the data.

More than 50 such services are already signed up to use Fire Eagle, with applications such as Nokia-owned Plazes offering to upload punters' GPS coordinates automatically, so all your contacts can see where you are all the time - at least until you tell the service to stop snitching on you.

Yahoo! has gone out of its way to allay privacy concerns, and isn't betting the farm on the success of Fire Eagle - none of Yahoo's own applications will be using the service until it proves popular, as Yahoo co-founder Dabid Filo told the BBC:

"If we get millions of consumers using the service and have thousands of applications, we think it will be good for Yahoo. We want our services to be location aware as well and obviously the more consumers that are willing to use it the more we will be able to tailor our services to them and the better it is for us."

The problem comes when and if such services become ubiquitous, when the authorities start demanding historical information (as they already do from the mobile-network operators) and when opting out of the service prompts the question "what have you got to hide?" ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
BT claims almost-gigabit connections over COPPER WIRE
Just need to bring the fibre box within 19m ...
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
Surprise: if you work from home you need the Internet
Buffer-rage sends Aussies out to experience road rage
EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass
Operator says it will safeguard 359 jobs, plans lick of paint
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.