In today’s dangerous world, is it enough to just say “I Do” when you take a vow to love and protect your beloved other during a marriage ceremony?  Isn’t it, perhaps, even more romantic to also add under your breath, “…and I’m watching you, too.” at&t thinks so, too, and they now offer a “FamilyMap” service that allows you, for ten dollars a month, to track two phones on your cellular service family plan.  For $15.00USD a month, you can track up to five phones.  Now you can have peace of mind while those around you tremble with paranoia in their new lives under your unblinking Panopticonic gaze — as demonstrated in the image below as I reflectively track myself, creating my own horrifying hallway of mirrors as I wonder if I’m coming or going:

Here’s how the at&t Family Map works.  You have a text message sent to your phone that allows you temporary access to the at&t Panopticonic network.  Then you just add the phones you want to monitor on and you’re good to go.

Once you enter the phone numbers for Surveilling, finding those you wish to hunt is as easy as clicking on the “locate” button.  You can also set up a schedule of automatic monitoring to make sure your spouse is at work at a certain time, or to check and see if your kids are really in school or not.  The history tab gives you seven days of this sort of detailed tracking.  You can set map points for certain locations to easily know at a glance if your family is in the area of where they’re supposed to be at a certain time. 

Virtual Earth provides the maps.

Getting a location fix takes under two minutes.

If you live in a Big Urban Core with underground transportation, you might not be able to find the person you’re tracking.  If, however, their phone is on, and in a coverage area, they will be found.

at&t seems to understand there’s a certain creepiness in their new FamilyMap — and so, once a month, they send the surveilled a text message reminding them that they’re being tracked and mapped by you.

They can also opt out of the service — if they have access to the at&t account profile — by bringing up the new “Location Privacy Settings” tab in their Profile Information and choosing the “Deny” option.

If everyone is the family is on the same team and trust is a given and not a risk, then there is great human value in the at&t FamilyMap service:  If your beloved is lost or unable to communicate or goes missing anywhere in the USA, you can help law enforcement pinpoint their location much faster than if they had to contact at&t to get a cellular triangulation for the one in need.

FamilyMap also has value in that when people know they are being surveilled, there is no benefit in lying:  If you’re at a fast food joint pigging out, don’t say you’re starving and hungry and studying in the library because one click on the FamilyMap “locate” button will rat you out.

at&t will give you 30 days to try out FamilyMap for free — and as I continue to ponder the inherent value of the service — I cannot help but hear in my mind the lyrical refrain from “Every Breath You Take” by the Police:

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
Ill be watching you

‘Til Death Do Us Part.


  1. That’s amazing but also a little creepy! The technology that they can create these days makes us more aware that we are truly being watched.
    I do think that there are pros and cons to the new at&t Family Map network.
    A young teenaged boy had a automobile accident on a very dangerous country road. His car went off into a ravine and it was not visible from the highway. His parents got worried when he didn’t come home at the agreed time and drove that particular stretch of road all night searching for their son. In there search for him they passed right by him many times but was unaware that he was there. Unfortunately, when his vehicle was eventually spotted he had already bled to death from massive internal injuries.
    If the at&t Family Map had been available then, perhaps this young man would has walked across the stage with the rest of his graduating class.
    It would have been a very crucial instrument in locating this young man. His parents would of had piece of mind knowing where to look for him.
    On the other hand, I can’t help but imagine the invasion on one’s life with such a device available. However, our government has been using such devices for years.
    Instead of,” I’ll be watching you” it’s more like “They’ll be watching you.”

  2. That’s a great and cautious tale, Heartmelody69, and I tend to think the people in your AT&T “Family Plan” are people you trust and want to protect — and so having this FamilyMap feature is a great way to always know where everyone is without having to proactively stay in touch. AT&T passively handles the caring monitoring and if someone doesn’t show up at a location at a proper time, a text alert can be sent. I think that’s a great, safe, lifesaving feature and $10 a month for monitoring two phones is a small price to pay for great peace of mind.

  3. Funnily enough, the song lyrics were used in a communication class I took at Rutgers with many examples of how modern technology can be used to stalk people – I guess this can be added now! 🙂

  4. That’s a great song, Gordon, and it’s used as a template in songwriting classes as a “modern classic” because of it’s perfect lyrics.

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