Free speech and Internet advocates are becoming alarmed at the increasing accuracy of Web mapping technology that can locate an Internet user geographically. Mapping software from companies such as Digital Envoy, Quova and NetGeo enables Web sites to identify an Internet user so that the site appears to them in their native language. Mapping technology can be used for targeted advertising or to automatically adjust airline ticket pricing depending on how many seats are available in real time.
The majority of mapping firms claim 99% accuracy for the country of origin of an Internet transmission, 85%-95% for state of origin and 85% for city. The narrower the field the greater the inaccuracy.
Advocates for free speech are concerned that countries will use the mapping technology to confine Web content according to area interests.
The Web mapping companies see it from a different angle where free speech values may conflict with the right of democratically elected governments to restrict child pornography, Nazi propaganda and other materials within constitutional boundaries. The companies partly rely on collection of domain names from databases.
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