Slashdot Geonews: Google Android Location Tracking and Constraining, Cracker-Sized Satellites, and a bit more

Here's the geospatial-related discussions that took place over Slashdot during the last 7 days. From my personal experience, there's often more value in the Slashdot user comments than in the news themselves, so don't hesitate to take a look at their user comments. Half of those stories from Slashdot are related to Google and location tracking.

Slashdot discussed a story about Marlinspike's Android Firewall that Constrain Location Tracking. The summary: "The first dynamic Android firewall, dubbed WhisperMonitor, has been released by respected security researcher Moxie Marlinspike. The firewall will allow users to stop location-tracking apps and restrict connection attempts by applications. Marlinspikewhose company created the application, designed WhisperMonitor in response to the incidence of location tracking and malware on Android platforms. It monitors all outbound connection attempts by applications and the operating system, and asks users to permit or block any URLs and port numbers that are accessed."

Another story discussed is named Google Sued For Tracking Users' Locations. The summary: "Two Android phone users are suing Google for $50 million in the wake of revelations that their phones might be tracking their locations. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on April 27, is seeking class-action status. The plaintiffs, Julie Brown and Kayla Molaski, are residents of Oakland County. The two say in the suit that Google's privacy policy did not say that the phones broadcast their location information. Further, they say Google knew that most users would not understand that the privacy policy would allow for Google to track users' locations." Apple was sued for their location tracking last week. According to Boy Genius Report, iOS tracking will be addressed in version 4.3.3, which is due out within a couple weeks.

Slashdot discussed a story named Google's South Korean Offices Raided, and the relation with geospatial is obvious in the summary: "The Seoul police raided Google's office in SeoulS. Korea today on suspicion that they have illegally collected users' location data, without consent, for advertising purposes. Google claims to be cooperating with the investigation."

Now, not related to Google directly but still on the location tracking theme, Slashdot discussed a story named Battle Brews Over FBI's Warrantless GPS Tracking. The summary: "The FBI's use of GPS vehicle tracking devices is becoming a contentious privacy issue in the courts, with the Obama administration seeking Supreme Court approval for its use of the devices without a warrant, and a federal civil rights lawsuit targeting the Justice Department for tracking the movements of an Arab-American student. In the midst of this legal controversy, Threat Level decided to take a look at the inside of one of the devices, with the help of the teardown artists at iFixit."

Slashdot discussed a story named Cracker-Size Satellites To Launch With Endeavour, the summary: "Obfiscator writes with news of the upcoming deployment of satellite-on-a-chip devices measuring just 3.8cm x 3.8cm x 0.2cm. The satellites are set to launch with Endeavour on its final flight. "These three miniature satellites are being launched as a proof-of-concept. As such, they're being deployed in very low orbit, and should return to earth fairly quickly in order to avoid becoming dangers for other satellites. 'They each contain seven solar cells, a microprocessor, an antenna and amplifier, power storage in capacitors, and switching circuitry to turn on the microprocessor when the stored energy is enough to create a single radio-frequency emission.' Due to their size, atmospheric drag would slow them down without burning them up, allowing them to study the uppermost atmosphere of wherever they are deployed next: Venus, Titan, Europe, and Jupiter are all possibilities."

Here's another story on Crowdsourcing Radiation Monitoring In Japan. The summary: "A new open- and crowdsourced initiative to deploy more geiger counters all over Japan looks to be a go. Safecast, formerly, recently met and exceeded its $33,000 fund-raising goal on Kickstarter, which should help Safecast send between 100 and 600 geiger counters to the catastrophe-struck country. The data captured from the geiger counters will be fed into, which aggregates radiation readings from government, nonprofit, and other sources, as well as into Pachube, a global open-source network of sensors."

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