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AIM’s buddy tracker

It sounds ok, but law enforcement people are concerned about it, Channel 6 in Orlando reports. And to me, upon reading this article, it sounds more risky even than cellphone-based mobile social networking because it can pinpoint where an AIM user is on his or her home computer. AIM users, including kids, can download this feature but its creator, Skyhook, represented in a mobile social networking meeting I attended in Washington this morning, said there are some effective protections in place (local TV news isn’t known for in-depth research in tech reporting). I suggest that parents ask kids if they’ve downloaded this plug-in and, if not, go through the process together, talking about the pros and cons. How the technology works is, it finds the position of an AIM buddy by “using the continuous wireless pulses emitted by all Wi-Fi transmitters and Wi-Fi-enabled computers,” according to Channel 6. The Associated Press explains further that, “when an AIM user installs [the service], the application gathers the identifying codes for all access points that are detected by the Wi-Fi card in the computer, then compares those with the database to identify the person’s location. When connected via a non-Wi-Fi computer, a user can manually input a location.” Here’s the AIM Location page.

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