Thursday, October 4, 2007

People v. UK cell phone providers

Following the recommendations of the IEGMP (a.k.a. the Stewart group), the UK government maintains a website called Sitefinder detailing the locations of cell phone base stations. The catch is that the database behind the site is populated voluntarily by the service providers.

Unfortunately, the providers stopped providing information to the database when the site's operators were told to make the stations' grid locations searchable online. The argument was that this would give sensitive information about the providers' networks.

Well, maybe, but I doubt this is a battle the providers will win. A nation known, among many other things, for trainspotting (the hobby, not the book/movie, or if you don't like that association, the Oxford English Dictionary) should have no trouble harnessing the efforts of interested individuals to compile an unofficial database comparable with, if not better than, the official version. "Crowdsourcing," they call it.

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