Google Releases ‘Trusted Contacts’ App for Use in Emergencies
The “Trusted Contacts” app has been released by Google. Launched on Monday, the new app is intended to help keep loved ones informed of a person’s location in a time of emergency.
The idea is simple. The user sets up a list of their closest contacts who are informed of their exact location and activities. In this way, it can help you find someone during an emergency situation like the recent fires plaguing California or a natural disaster like a hurricane. The idea is similar services offered by Facebook.
— Google (@google) December 5, 2016
Google Trusted Contacts features include, showing where a user was “active recently” if that person moved or is offline. This is expected to keep people from panicking if they can’t reach you.
There is also a request for your location which will appear on your phone. If you do not want people to know where you are, but just reassure them that you are OK, you can deny the request and tell them that you are just busy. But if the request goes unanswered for 5 minutes, it goes through and your last known location is sent to them to the person who sent it. This is not necessarily a good thing and so people may wish to be very careful when choosing who they add to their Trusted Contacts App.
There is also a feature which will allow users to share their locations for a limited period of time. For example, if you find yourself in a dangerous situation or if you are concerned that you may be at risk, you can choose a contact with whom to share your location for a preset amount of time until you feel safe again.
Parents will obviously be thrilled with this. It will help them keep tabs on their children and they can always require their kids to keep the app on. And women who fear that their husbands may be cheating on them will also love this. They can now see where their men are when they are late coming home. The husbands will have a hard time refusing to let their wives have access to this information.
But privacy advocates will not be happy with Google’s Trusted Contacts. They already see Big Brother everywhere and do not like seeing yet another way for the government to follow people’s movements. After all, even if the users can limit who has access to their locations, America’s NSA can hack just about anything.