NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Tracking Down The Kids

December 8, 2000

At least three companies are busy working on devices that would locate missing children or monitor the condition of people with health problems using satellite and mobile phone technology.

The devices could raise privacy concerns if they are misused or fall into the wrong hands.

  • A division of Siemens AG is unveiling a tracking and monitoring device designed to be put into the teddy bear or school bag of a child age three to 12, which would pinpoint the location of a child and connect to a call center for patching through to a parent or caregiver.
  • A subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions is developing Digital Angel, a small patch or watch-like band that attaches close to the body, allowing authorized parties to track the exact location of the person wearing the device simply by logging onto an Internet site.
  • The company also plans to introduce a device that would automatically signal a call center if the wearer's heart rate rose by a certain amount.
  • eWorldtrack Inc. is developing a tracking device that could be enclosed in a pair of ordinary athletic shoes used by youngsters as old as 18.

Privacy advocates raise the possibility of a suspicious spouse planting such device on his or her mate to track that person's movements. Another concern is that call center personnel would be privy to a child's movements.

Source: Allison Linn, "Devices Locate Children, Create Privacy Issues," Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2000.


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