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New Cell Phone Technology Can Track Users

With Global Positioning System chips now installed in some cell phones, parents can use phones to keep tabs on their children and businesses can track the whereabouts of delivery truck drivers. But the new tracking systems leave some privacy advocates dismayed.

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    Here you are.

  • LEE HOCHBERG, NewsHour Correspondent:

    Tommy Fritz (ph) of suburban Seattle made sure 5-year-old Parker had crayons in his backpack and a cell phone, with its global positioning system, on his backpack.


    We've got to go. You've got to go.


    Joel Fritz configured his own cell phone so he could track his son throughout the day. Using Verizon Wireless's chaperone service, he called up a map showing Parker's school, and he set his phone to alert him if Parker strayed too far from school.

  • JOEL FRITZ, Verizon Customer:

    So I think today is a writing day.


    It's the new location-based technology, through which parents like Fritz can keep 24-hour watch on their children.


    We've been with him through his whole life, you know, up until age 4. We've been in preschool with him, and this is the first time where, you know, we haven't been with him. And I know where he is.

    Give me a kiss. Love you.

    PARKER FRITZ, Son of Joel Fritz: Goodbye, Dad.




    Global positioning system, or GPS, chips, are in an estimated 100 million cellular phones. They're there so 911 dispatchers can quickly locate cell phone callers. But now the average cell user can do the same thing: lock on to another cell user's GPS chip and pinpoint that phone's location.


    I can zoom out, zoom in, depending on what I want to see in a map.


    Verizon spokesmen say the product has become very popular. Customers pay $10 to $20 a month for it. Sprint, with its family locater, and Disney Mobile offer similar services.

    The technology has also been embraced by law enforcement. Colorado authorities found an accused serial rapist by tracking the cell phone he stole from a victim.