Vancouver man arrested for sexual assault aided by GPS app

Posted by Jeffery Simpson

The Vancouver Sun is reporting that there has been an arrest made in an August sexual assault.  The assault was facilitated by the mobile software Grindr an application that allows gay and bi-sexual men to meet based on their GPS location.  

The arrest of Brent Tynan, 54, for the assault of a 15 year old, once again brings up concerns about online safety.  From the Sun article:

Sex Crimes Unit Sgt. Jeanette Theisen encouraged parents to have open and frank discussions with their children.

"Advances in technology and social networking make it easier for our children to come into contact with individuals who may try to harm them or take advantage of them," Theisen said.

While location based applications like Foursquare do allow users to control who sees their locations, those sorts of protections are only useful if the users are actually selective in who they friend.  Further not all location based applications offer such protection, and it seems as if the use case scenarios presented by Grindr's website are diametrically opposed to such security.  The application seems to exist to facilitate the random encounter with nearby gay men, and in this case it helped a 54 year old find a teenager.

Online safety has increasingly been an issue recently, and as more and more applications build out features that take advantage of the user's location data it's going to stay that way.  Facebook has been building up its security to help protect its users and other services are likely to follow suit.

Whatever security features are added to applications like Grindr and others, it's important to realize that safety begins and ends with the user's own decisions.  Share only what you would want everyone to know, and assume that any information that you put into a social network like Twitter, Foursquare or Facebook is going to end up in the hands of someone you might not want it to.  

If you wouldn't feel safe inviting random strangers into your house, don't let your social networks tell them where you live.

Company:
Twitter
Website:
http://www.twitter.com
Location:
San Francisco, California, United States

Twitter is a privately funded startup with offices in the SoMA neighborhood of San Francisco, CA. Started as a side project in March of 2006, Twitter has grown into a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices. In countries all around the world, people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens—from breaking world news to updates... more

Company:
Foursquare
Website:
http://playfoursquare.com/
Location:
Seattle, Washington, United States

We're all about helping you find new ways to explore the city. We'll help you meet up with your friends and let you earn points and unlock badges for discovering new places, doing new things and meeting new people. more


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Jeffery Simpson

Jeffery Simpson

Jeffery Simpson is a Vancouver based freelance writer who has written on such subjects as:    iPads Kindles digital comics Ogopogos speed dating Twitter dating Internet dating dating in university not dating in university the Kelowna Rockets Western Hockey League Team Second Life podcasting blogging dating in Second Life dating Ogopogos not dating Ogopogos social media... more



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