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This chapter is from the book

"How I Stalked My Girlfriend"

In his February 1, 2006 blog, "How I Stalked My Girlfriend," appearing in The Guardian (London), columnist Ben Goldacre writes about how easy it was to set up GPS tracking on his girlfriend's cell phone. He did so with her permission, of course, but even so, he was astounded at how quick and easy it was to do:

  • I unplugged her phone and took it upstairs to register it on a website I had been told about.... I ticked the website's terms and conditions without reading them, put in my debit card details, and bought 25 GPS Credits for £5.
  • Almost immediately, my girlfriend's phone vibrated with a new text message. "Ben Goldacre has requested to add you to their Buddy List! To accept, simply reply to this message with 'LOCATE.'" I sent the requested reply. The phone vibrated again. A second text arrived: "WARNING: [this service] allows other people to know where you are. For your own safety make sure that you know who is locating you." I deleted both these text messages.
  • On the website, I see the familiar number in my list of "GPS devices" and I click "locate." A map appears of the area in which we live, with a person-shaped blob in the middle, roughly 100 yards from our home. The phone doesn't go off at all. There is no trace of what I'm doing on her phone. I can't quite believe my eyes: I knew that the police could do this, and telecommunications companies, but not any old random person with five minutes access to someone else's phone. I can't find anything in her mobile that could possibly let her know that I'm checking her location. As devious systems go, it's foolproof. I set up the website to track her at regular intervals, take a snapshot of her whereabouts automatically, every half hour, and plot her path on the map, so that I can view it at my leisure. It felt, I have to say, exceedingly wrong." (Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2006/feb/01/news.g2)
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