Software To Limit Tracking Cell Phone Users

Bell Labs says it has developed a network software engine that can let cell users be as picky as they choose about disclosing their whereabouts, a step that may help wireless companies introduce “location-based services” in a way customers will find handy rather than intrusive.

In a presentation this week at an industry conference, researchers for the Bell Labs division of Lucent Technologies Inc. plan to describe how their technology copes with the conflicting demands of speed, privacy and personalization on a live telephone network — enabling users to specify what location information is shared, when, with whom, how and under what circumstances.

While one U.S. mobile phone operator, AT&T Wireless, already offers a “Find Friends” feature that’s somewhat analogous to a buddy list in instant messaging, location-based services have mostly remained an unfulfilled promise.

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