Tracking Children Via Mobile Phone
By Eric Lin, Mon Oct 20 20:00:00 GMT 2003

In a move that could set the standards for all of the European Union, Finland is considering legislation allowing parents to track the mobile phones of children under 15 without their consent.

In Europe, there is a new effort to use mobiles to ensure the safety of children. Some of the programs are designed to encourage communication between adults and their young charges. England's "Teach UR mum 2 TXT" program encourages children to bring their parents up to speed with their most popular form of communication. The Finns however, are considering a program that goes well beyond chatting their young kids up to see if they're ok.

Reuters reports the Finnish Government is considering legislation that would allow a guardian to track the mobile phone of a child under 15 without his permission. Once children turn 15, they will have to consent to tracking, except in emergency situations when any phone can be tracked without the owner's consent.

Because Finland is one of the leaders for mobile phone penetration in the EU, the laws they create could set the standard for the rest of Europe, effecting both privacy and safety policies.

Considering Finland's current networks only support tower location, which are accurate to 100m at best and 20km at worst, one might question how effective such a system would be and how much privacy is really being compromised. However if 3G networks will use assisted GPS (aGPS) or a similarly accurate location system and the law is still on the books, this issue will take on a greater importance.