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April 13, 2006

A Big Brother service for Mom and Dad

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 2:26 PM

In my story today on Sprint's new child-tracking service, I quoted Gerry Langeler, who is a venture capitalist for OVP Venture Partners as well as the father of a 15-year-old and 19-year-old son.

I asked him what he thought about the service, which allows you to locate your child using GPS at the touch of a button. Is it an infringement on the child's privacy?

"This is the way the world works, you stop lying or you find another way to hide the truth," he said. "It's one of those things, where if you know all the parents on the street will report what you do, than you don't do it. Raising kids is hard and it takes multiple eyes and ears to keep them safe."

He added: "The kids that would complain the loudest, they (the parents) need it the most. The ones that don't need it, won't sign up."

The service is similar to one of the features being offered by Disney Mobile. However, with Disney, in order for the parents to track their kids on their phone, they will also have to have a phone from Disney.

Langeler, who is looking at investing in GPS-mobile applications, was critical of the Disney service.

"That's a losing idea in my view. What you want is to be able to use any phone from your carrier. If they force me to buy a particular phone from a particular group, there's a tremendously tight ceiling on adoption."

What's more, he said, "Do you think my 15-year-old wants a Disney phone? Not on my life. They want something cool, not something for an 8 year old."

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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