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Tracked By Your Cellphone

If you have a cellphone, you soon will no longer be able to hide-the government will be able to track you down. Cellphone manufacturers are under a federal mandate to equip mobile phones with location-tracking devices,beginning this October. GPS chips will be planted in the handsets so that by 2005, 95 percent of all cellphones will be able to be traced with an accuracy of about 1,000 feet or better.

These cellphones could be lifesavers in an emergency, but there is the question of an invasion of privacy. "For most people, it's a very scary proposition that the government can use not only your mobile phone but your Palm Pilots.and any other mobile device to track your every movement," saysattorney Albert Gidari of Seattle.

"Wireless operators already know where consumers are by virtue of the fact that the phone is on," points out Ken Arneson of Telecommunication Systems, the company that will provide the location-tracking technology.

Some people worry that the technology will be misused to provide information to potential merchants. It could also be used by stalkers and abusive relatives. "If the fundamental principles of privacy aren't in place, there will be a revolt against the widespread use of the technology," Gidari says.

Arneson counters this by saying, "there will be privacy solutions in place.that essentially allow consumers to opt in and out of these various services. Privacy is an enormous concern."

Planning to rob a bank or cheat on your spouse? Don't forget to turn off your cellphone.

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