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Safety precautions within your cell phone

A new website has introduced a safety service which allows users to take photos of the people around them, aiming to build a database of photos to aid investigators in case of crime.

Guardpic.me is a service that allows users to e-mail or text photos of a date, or someone one has left a bar with, to their database. With this photo application, if something were to happen to the user, law enforcement agencies have a photo of the person with whom they were last seen, as well as a time and possibly even a location.

With the slogan “you wear a seatbelt as a safety precaution… start using Guardpic.me for the same reason,” Guardpic.me advertises their service as a precautionary measure, aimed to help locate criminals and those who might be able to aid in an investigation. The service has been available for about two months, currently boasting 1,600 users.

Michael Vitale, CEO of Guardpic.me said that “about 95 percent of the current members are women.”

Vitale said that his company’s clientele is primarily college-age women and women working in the real estate business,

“We have younger college age women who use the service as well as realtors in their 40’s using the service at open houses,” he said.

Once the photos are sent to Guardpic.me, they are stored in the user’s account. The accounts are protected and can only be released to law enforcement agencies, either by a public safety officer’s request or by request of the Guardpic.me member.

Through its service, Guardpic.me hopes potential offenders can be identified for crimes ranging from harassment to murder.

The inspiration for the site came from Vitale’s personal experiences. Vitale watched a movie about a teenaged-girl who, while on vacation, goes on a date with a man she barely knows, only to be murdered and impossible to locate.

Thinking of the circumstances of his 13 and 20-year-old daughters, Vitale said he was alarmed at the rates of violence affecting young girls.

“I was amazed to find out how many times this happens, usually only at the hands of someone they know or just met,” he said.

Vitale hopes that with publicity, attackers will become wary after a photo has been taken.
“I hope that someday Guardpic.me will be well so known that once a potential attacker sees his photo taken, he will be less likely to commit a crime,” Vitale continued.

One UMass student, Gabrielle Gasparre, 18, a freshman from Brewster, NY, said she believes Guardpic.me is a sensible product for people who could be victimized by crime.

“I can see why this is a good idea,” she said, “it allows people to feel comfortable in different environments.”

Gasparre added that she could see how Guardpic.me could raise civil liberties issues.

“Despite that, I also could see this as an invasion of privacy, unless those having their photo taken are comfortable with their name and photo being sent to this website,” she said.

While the University of Massachusetts Amherst Crime Statistics for 2008 only report 20 acts of forcible sex offenses, it is believed by the Federal Bureau of Justice that 90 percent of rapes or sexual offenses are not reported to the police, placing the possible number of sex offenses on campus closer to 200.

Guardpic.me is a free service available to all online. To register, one must give a name, address, e-mail address and phone number. After receiving a confirmation e-mail, users may send photos immediately. To send photos to Guardpic.me by e-mail, send the photo to pics@guardpic.me or by SMS text message to (800) 123-4567@guardpic.me. The site is currently working on a one-touch application for smart phones.

Michelle Williams can be reached at mnwillia@student.umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “Safety precautions within your cell phone”
  1. Ed says:

    teenaged-girl who, while on vacation, goes on a date with a man she barely knows, only to be murdered and impossible to locate.

    Why the h*** would any girl go somewhere with a man whom she barely knows? And what good is it to you to have the police able to identify your murderer if you are already dead?

    Call me old fashioned (guilty) but if we still lived in a culture where you knew someone’s last name before you had sex, we wouldn’t be having these problems.

    Ladies, how about some REAL security precautions – having someone know where you are going, with whom, AND WHEN YOU EXPECT TO BE BACK. And know something about the guy you are going with – or heaven forbid we be old fashioned and go on a “double date” where you go with a female friend and her boyfriend, knowing that you have her and her boyfriend for assistance should anything bad happen.

    Further, ladies, you might want to think about the type of guys you are dating. There are a lot of decent guys who are shy and often overlooked (I am thinking of the entire north end of campus) who aren’t flashy but also aren’t creeps.

    Why can’t we say that if women didn’t date creeps, they wouldn’t be having problems from the creeps? We have no problem saying that women shouldn’t drive on bald tires, why can’t we say that they shouldn’t date potential rapists?

    I am sick and tired of seeing women date abusive loosers with fancy cars while decent guys (with solid money-making potential in fields like engineering and computer science) sit home alone on weekends. At what point do we go to women and say you bear some responsibility for your own life?

    And I would be offended if my date secretly snapped my picture and sent it somewhere (I actually wonder if there are legal issues with this). When I was younger it would have been her parents, now it is her roommate or friend – when I take a girl on a date, someone in her life not only knows who I am but when I expect we will be back. Not what we are going to be doing, but when we expect to be back and where to start looking if we aren’t.

    This is what it means to be a gentleman.

    And the other thing this site does is feed the paranoia of all men being potential rapists. That is no more responsible than saying that all Moslems are potential terrorists, aka Ann Coulter. If you don’t want to get raped, (a) don’t go places drunk out of your mind and (b) exercise the judgment of the free thinking independent adult that you are.

    I am not going to say that Guardpic.me is a steppingstone to Burkas and the Taliban, but never forget that the Islamic world treats women the way it does so as to “protect” them. And it isn’t far from you taking pictures to the government taking pictures, to the kindly (or not so kindly) government agent asking you questions about the politics of your boyfriend.

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