My name is Ken Westin, I am the founder of GadgetTrak ( www.gadgettrak.com ) one of the companies mentioned in the article and we provide tracking software for a range of devices including Mac, Windows, Blackberry, Windows Mobile and others. The privacy component was a critical factor in our design, looking at other solutions we saw that a lot of data including location, photos etc were being sent to the companies server, some even provide a monitoring center with a backdoor into the system. When we designed our software we did so in a way that would respect user privacy.
For example with our laptop software MacTrak and PC-Trak the only data we have is if the device tracking is active or not, the location and photos captured goes to the device owner's email address as well as Flickr account, so it goes to accounts that the owner controls and never to us. When a device is stolen we ask the customer to friend us on Flickr and share the photo and data, or they can just forward it to us. There is no reason to have this type of data come to our servers if we can avoid it. In the future we may have an option for the user to CHOOSE to upload this data to a server, but we will always provide the device owner with the control of how this data is managed.
You can read more about our philosophy here:
Our mobile phone software also has the capability to remotely wipe data from the device as well as track it. The mobile phone software is triggered by SMS messages. The software has a password with it as well, so if the device is stolen the user sends and SMS message with a command and the software password to activate various functions including tracking, data wipe, trigger an alarm, lock device and others. Again this data does not go through a server, it is done between the device owner and the device itself.
We also pioneered the USB software for iPods, flash drives and other devices that was mentioned in the store and have a patent for it, all data is encrypted and transmitted securely.
We come from a security background and are extremely paranoid about privacy ourselves, this is why we made sure that no photo or location data ever touches our servers. The best way to ensure privacy of this type of information is to build the software so there is no way it can transmit it to you, remove the man in the middle altogether. We also believe that this data should be provided to you, after all it is your device you should be given the data and be able to decide what to do with it. We assist in the recovery process and work with law enforcement, however the data goes to you first. It is very much backwards from the traditional approach where the data is sent to a monitoring center where they have a back door into your system and they only share that data with law enforcement, some will refuse to provide you with this data even though it is your device.
Let me know if you have any questions, or suggestions.