Google Is Stalking You

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) already knows you better than your mom does. Now, with a new extension to Google Gears, unveiled this week, the Big G will be able to tell Mom where you are.

Gears works with your laptop's Wi-Fi signal to determine your location within 200 meters. You'll be able to opt-in to share the data with sites that offer location-based services.

Obvious examples include city guides. Say you point your browser to CitySearch and type in "Mexican food." Using Gears data, the site could show you a list of nearby eateries and map turn-by-turn directions. Any Web task that could be enhanced with location data is fair game.

You don't know the power of the dark side ...
Privacy advocates are sure to point out that Google can't control those who use Gears. Some may collect and store or even resell user data. Gears, in other words, could be used for Evil.

My guess is that it will be because miscreants exist on the Web and, by virtue of its size and popularity versus Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Live.com, Yahoo!'s (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) Yahoo! Search, and IAC's (Nasdaq: IACI  ) Ask.com, plenty use "the Google."

And yet location-based services are not only inevitable, they're already here. TV executives introduced regional sports programming decades ago. General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) has Onstar in its top-of-the line vehicles for roadside assistance.

Is the Big G stalking you? Maybe. Or maybe its location-based technology is a guide, meant to make your world a little more useful. Either way, Gears is grinding.

And your Mom is watching. Say hi.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers recently returned from a tour of Silicon Valley with his Rule Breakers teammates, during which they visited more than a dozen established and emerging innovators, including one that specializes in location-based services. Care to learn more? Sign up right here for the updates

Tim had positions in Google's shares and LEAPs at the time of publication. Google is a Rule Breakers recommendation. Microsoft is an Inside Value pick. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy operates from a secret server located underground in an undisclosed location somewhere in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.


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