back to article Yahoo! knows! where! you! are!

Yahoo's punter-locating database officially launched yesterday and already has privacy advocates in a flap, despite offering users complete control as well as expecting them to lie every now and then. Fire Eagle is a free central service to which punters can subscribe and maintain their current location. Services then …


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  1. Craig

    Why am I finding this out from the reg?

    I signed up for the beta months ago... you'd think they'd at least fire off an email to people on the list saying they've launched!

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Oh yes they could - if they wanted to.

    >"though they can't make the same promise about services using the data."

    Of course they can. They could make it a part of the t's&c's in the standard contract between themselves and the providers that subscribe to their data.

    But they won't, because some greedy bastard in sales or marketing didn't want to risk losing even a single potential customer.

  3. adnim

    Who needs Yahoo for this?

    email, landine, mobile, even the postal service are adequate ways to let those whom you wish to know where you are, where you are. Why should I tell Yahoo and and all those thrid parties they will likely sell this information to. I could be paranoid but in todays snoop society is it really paranoia?

  4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Oh no it doesn't...

    The only place I use GPS is on the boat.

    I can't imagine why anyone would want to volutarily use a service like this. But then again I am guessing it appeals to those complete no-lifers who update their Facebook profile every other minute with status like:

    "X is brushing teeth."

    "X is desperate to be liked."

    "X is watching porn as I can't get a real person to date me."


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    You choose to say where you are?

    So, I say I'm having tea this afternoon with my grannie in Somerset but really I'm leading a daring bank raid in London ? Can I use Fire Eagle in my defense if I get caught eventually? Honest officer, see, I was with my grannie all afternoon. It couldn't have been me :-)

    I see a downside to this service, just can't put my GPS location on it though....

    Govt, snoop,lack of privacy and freedom ?

  6. FathomsDown

    I remember something like this....

    There was a company which used to run a text service in major shopping centres where you could text them to say you had arrived and text them the say you had left. Between those texts you would be bombarded with pointless marketing texts for offers like "50p off an electric combined cheese grated and sock darner in the shape of the Taj Mahal. RRP £999.99".

    Oddly enough it doesn't seem to be around any more....

  7. Rasthadan

    So what's new

    Actually Yahoo knew I was not in the UK, and informed me that I was in Canada of course I was there and wanted to give me access to Yahoo Canada.

    Now if they can also pinpoint in what city or area I am in, that would be an invasion of privacy cause my work does not support that.

    Will have to find out more about this, because as we travel we subscribe or stay with servers not necessarily from our country of origin

    Since 9/11 the Big Brother syndrome is getting to me. just might return to snail mail and couriers. If fast means no privacy, snail mail might be safer again.


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    And this is useful how?

    I was hoping this would do something useful, like provide me with location specific news, restaurant recommendations, travel information etc. Instead it appears that all it lets you do is update blogs and social networking sites, none of which I use (I'm too busy traveling, working, looking for restaurants and trying to get the local travel news).

    It seems to be a tool for people who think the world wants to know where they are, rather than for people who know where they are and want to know what else is there.

  9. Marvin the Martian
    Gates Horns

    Combine GPS and twitter?

    So this way I can broadcast my actual postcode (while driving around) to all my so-called friends? Updated every 20sec? Useful!

    I suspect if I then fill in my housenumber as "13" or so, anybody living in nr 13 of any street I pass can get advertisements targeted at uprooted people: moving companies, change-of-address-notifications, keep-in-touch stuff, local-whore-directories etc. Much chaotic wasteage will ensue... excellent.

  10. Lars


    Could you use "punters" a few more times, please?

    Maybe after that I will have figured out what it means.

    I don't suppose you're talking about boaters or gamblers.

  11. Alex Daulby

    Punters means......

    It's a slightly derogatory term for Customers.

    I'm assuming your American so in context would be....

    If that hooker get's any more punters, she's going to need her own lamp post.

  12. This Guy

    @ Lars

    Punter: customer, user. Kinda. May contain traces of "man in the street."

  13. Adam


    ...the service you're thinking of was called ZagMe and worked just at Bluewater and Lakeside; it was bought and rolled into a market research organisation (Valued Opinions). The SMS service was alright actually, there were discounts available by showing your texts at certain participating stores.

    I think the key to any system like this is the controllability of your data. If I don't want to be tracked, I do nothing. If I do want to be tracked, I switch it on for a specified period of time - proper opt-in.

  14. Ian

    Re Polypunting

    Punter = customer, user of a service, member of the general public etc etc.

  15. Neoc

    Re; Punter

    I beg to differ. The original Punter is a bettor, specifically a bettor who takes on sportsbooks or racebooks. You "took a punt" on the races.

    It has, since then, moved on to imply *anyone* who took a chance on *anything* - applies very well to early-adopters and v1.0 buyers. ^_^

  16. Steve Button Silver badge

    RE: And this is useful how?

    The service you are looking for was developed by Rocking Frog (part of BT) about 8 years ago. It gave you news related to your location, interests, etc. as well as restaurants, hotels, cashpoint machines, traffic, petrol stations... and any other feeds you wanted to pump through it.

    I know 'cos I helped develop the software, but unfortunately we where way ahead of our time and fell victim to Web Crunch 1.0.

    I wonder if the GPS iPhone is the tipping point to make this kind of thing really useful in our lives now? I mean, wouldn't it be great if the software logged our location all the time, figured out where we are going based on past habits and gave us useful information based on that location? Things like telling you your train is going to be VERY late before you get to the station, so you can drive into work instead (if that's an option) because some inconsiderate person has jumped off a bridge at Shenfield. Or giving you restaurant recommendations based on 1) your location 2) your preferences and 3) Other people's reviews.

    The thing is you can't really loose with this kind of technology, as you still get the same restaurant reviews (for example)... it just puts the ones you are probably going to want closer to the top of the list of hits.

    And as for privacy. Privacy Schmivacy, that's what I say. You bloody people at The Reg have been banging on about privacy for years and years. Saying about this or that *could* happen, but for the vast majority of normal people this just isn't going to be a concern in our day-to-day lives. For me, and people like me the benefits far outweigh the possible down side. If I was David Beckham, I would probably care about people getting hold of my location, but I'm not a celebrity or major politician and getting assassinated or kidnapped does not feature on my list of daily worries. Get some perspective on this, and think of the possibilities.

  17. Andy Watt
    Thumb Down

    Pointless... no real revenue generation prospects

    I can only see this generating revenue on the basis of ads, as they're the only large-scale way of getting something out of it - sending someone a restaurant review is great but it's not going to make any cash.

    Darwinian economics tells me this "service" would fall to the lowest common denominator pretty quickly (especially in a global economic downturn) with scads of useless ads punted out to punters (see, I'm reading the comments) until they opt out or are too stupid and put up with the things until they send an email to yahoo asking to unsubscribe or somesuch.

    Like 3D cinema, this one's going to pop up now and then and get resoundly ignored by the masses due to lack of interest and revenue. It'll probably always be around for twitter-tw@ts and the like. (ooo, I'm having a cup of tea somewhere within 10m of my back door!)

    Incidentally, given that GPS messages are a piece of piss to fake (I'll presume that the API forwards GPS co-ords or postcodes or whatever), if this information ever was turned over as evidence it'd be utterly useless, so that side of things isn't a worry.

    Also, I love the URL, looks like "firee agle" or "fir eeagle" to me. Could have used a hyphen maybe.

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