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-   -   Can computer manufacturers track the computer with GPS (http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/general-10/can-computer-manufacturers-track-the-computer-with-gps-4175450884/)

Miranden 02-19-2013 10:47 PM

Can computer manufacturers track the computer with GPS
 
I just wanted to know if computer/tablet manufacturers who sell devices with onboard GPS could use the GPS to locate the machine. Do they keep records of the computers they sell that could later be used for tracking purposes, or is this illegal? What about if the computer was lost during shipping? Could they track it down?

Hope somebody knows about this. Thanks. :)

dugan 02-20-2013 01:46 AM

Quote:

What about if the computer was lost during shipping? Could they track it down?
The GPS only works if the machine is turned on. The one in my iPhone only works if it's turned on and also has Internet access. A device that's simply been lost during shipping would not be turned on. So no.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Miranden (Post 4895653)
I just wanted to know if computer/tablet manufacturers who sell devices with onboard GPS could use the GPS to locate the machine. Do they keep records of the computers they sell that could later be used for tracking purposes, or is this illegal?

Nope. They don't. If they did, then they would be offering a (paid) "find my lost device" service that they could operate from their head office. "Apple, I lost my iPhone." "May I have your AppleCare account number?" "Yes. It's xxx-xxx-xxx". "One second please... Your iPhone is currently located at <insert address here>. Your AppleCare account is still good for two more lost device recoveries."

Storing and retrieving data costs money, and a company would only do it if the benefits to them outweight the cost.

And... illegal? If they wanted to do it and there was a question about legality, they'll just ask for your permission in the EULA.

qlue 02-20-2013 02:45 AM

Virtually all modern computers have a built-in "find your computer" routine built into the motherboard. It's called, "Lojack for Laptops". It's a factory pre-installed backdoor that cannot be removed! It must be activated first though, and it works via a wired Internet connection. It must be activated in Windows and there is no Linux client for it. If you use Linux, it's effectively crippled. which makes it's only practical use to spy on Windows users! :p
http://www.absolute.com/en-GB/lojackforlaptops/home

H_TeXMeX_H 02-20-2013 02:56 AM

They can, but they probably don't. I can't say the same for various agencies out there...

TobiSGD 02-20-2013 05:55 AM

Contrary what movies make you believe, GPS is a one way system. A pure GPS receiver is only able to tell you your position. To tell somebody else where you are the device also needs the possibility to send that data to the person that wants to track you.

So while it may be possible to have a backdoor in a device that has GPS and the possibility to send the data, the real problem is the sheer number of devices with GPS. Tracking all those devices would be really expensive, the person that wants to track has to pay all the network traffic, needs an enormous amount of storage servers for saving all that data (not to mention energy costs, ..., to run such a server farm).

So the answer: Possible only for devices that have the capacity to send data, but only viable if done for single persons that are actively tracked.

H_TeXMeX_H 02-20-2013 09:44 AM

Tablets all have wifi. Coordinate data can be stored locally and sent once the user connects.

I agree that GPS receivers cannot send your location back to the satellite. For that you would need a rather bulky antenna and a subscription, like satellite phones have.

Miranden 02-20-2013 09:57 AM

Thanks everybody. So, if GPS is a one way system (thanks Tobi), but the data could be stored also be locally, like H_TeXMeX_H says, then it could be theoretically be sent to the manufacturer once the user connects via wifi, right? But is this something they actually do? If a computer were lost during shipping and someone else found it, for instance (or stole it), could they track it down?

onebuck 02-20-2013 10:17 AM

Moderator Response
 
Moved: This thread is more suitable in <General> and has been moved accordingly to help your thread/question get the exposure it deserves.

Habitual 02-20-2013 10:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Miranden (Post 4895653)
Do they keep records of the computers they sell that could later be used for tracking purposes, or is this illegal? What about if the computer was lost during shipping? Could they track it down?

Hope somebody knows about this. Thanks. :)

De-caf?

Miranden 02-20-2013 11:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by onebuck (Post 4896019)
Moved: This thread is more suitable in <General> and has been moved accordingly to help your thread/question get the exposure it deserves.

Sorry, I thought I posted in General.

Miranden 02-20-2013 11:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Habitual (Post 4896049)
De-caf?

I've been drinking chamomile tea all day and it doesn't help. :P

qlue 02-20-2013 02:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Miranden (Post 4896002)
Thanks everybody. So, if GPS is a one way system (thanks Tobi), but the data could be stored also be locally, like H_TeXMeX_H says, then it could be theoretically be sent to the manufacturer once the user connects via wifi, right? But is this something they actually do? If a computer were lost during shipping and someone else found it, for instance (or stole it), could they track it down?

I'd say no, they couldn't track it electronically. Not because it's not technically possible, but because it's not logistically possible.
The cost would far outweigh the benefits and insurances takes care of any losses that do occur.

Habitual 02-20-2013 03:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Miranden (Post 4896076)
I've been drinking chamomile tea all day and it doesn't help. :P

Tinfoil hat? ;)

Miranden 02-20-2013 04:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Habitual (Post 4896236)
Tinfoil hat? ;)

Where's the "middle finger" emoticon on this forum? ;)

273 02-21-2013 10:55 AM

Apple devices were found to be recording GPS coordinates locally: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04...tion_tracking/
There is also a service to find your device offered for Apple and Android kit. Of course both need a data connection as mentioned.
There is also, I think, a Federal mandate that all phones sold in the US will have to have GPS onboard so that "911 callers can be located" -- make of that what you will.
So, yes, manufacturers can and do track devices as do law enforcement, the owners of the devices and probably some criminals too. If it's possible nowadays then it's probably being done -- there's nothing paranoid about worrying that we now live in a society where our every move is tracked.


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