Google puts employers on your trail

Members of the media watch a slideshow during a news conference about Google Maps on June 6, 2012 in San Francisco, Calif. The search giant is offering a new service, Maps Coordinate, to help bosses keep track of workers.

Kai Ryssdal: Just when you thought you couldn't lose any more privacy, allow me to introduce you to Maps Coordinate from Google. It uses the same technology Google Maps does -- with a twist.

It lets companies with big mobile workforces -- sales people, what have you -- keep tabs on those workers, wherever they are, whenever they're there.

Marketplace's Stacey Vanek Smith has more on Google's newest search engine.

Stacey Vanek Smith: Apparently, my fellow New Yorkers aren't always at work when they're supposed to be.

Craziest thing I've done on company time was check out a full-feature film. It was "Death to Smoochie."

Snuck out and did my nails.

I've gone to Macy's to go shopping.

We all went to a bar and got pretty tanked.

The fine art of playing hookie might be tanking, too. Google's Maps Coordinate lets your employer use your phone to see where you are on a map every five seconds. Google's been beta-testing the product with utility companies, telecom companies and pizza delivery companies.

Google Maps Coordinate ad: Since your operations team uses Google Maps Coordinate to visualize, when a problem arises, they can quickly assign jobs to the nearest available worker.

Maps Coordinate costs $15 per month per employee. AT&T and IBM have similar services.

Jeff Jarvis: Tracking mobile employees is a big business.

Jeff Jarvis is the author of "Public Parts," a book about privacy. He says companies need to be careful.

Jarvis: If an employer used this service to snoop on employees, that I think will lead to a backlash.

Or maybe not. Brad McCarty is managing editor at the next web. He points out that people broadcast their locations all the time, with Facebook and Foursquare.

Brad McCarty: I think for businesses, it's probably a great tool.

Vanek Smith: Would you voluntarily be tracked?

McCarty: Uh, wow, I'm not sure.

Google points out Coordinate has an invisible function. So if you're, say, ducking out for a quick matinee, you can do it off the grid.

In New York, at my desk, working, just like always, I'm Stacey Vanek Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.


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