How would you feel, if some one decided to give you all of their attention? If every time you walked down a road, you felt a pair of eyes following your back? How would you feel if someone was constantly watching your every move, observing every breath of yours? Those prying, insistent eyes gazing fixedly, drinking in what you wear, what you eat and what you speak? Those eerie eyes which stare at you from the shadows following wherever you go, whom you meet where you sleep. And if those pair of eyes followed you into your house, watched you change and slept with you on your bed at night? And if one day they begin to control every aspect of your life? How would you feel? Flattered? Concerned? Irritated? Annoyed? Scared? Suffocated?
But what if that following gazing pair of eyes are actually your partners (Or rather the apps offering to be the virtual stalker? ) How would you feel then?
Ever since the bloom of the internet, technological advances are being achieved at an alarming rate. This advent of technology means better and easier life with the newer generations being more informed; more aware. However, like every coin, these improvements also have another side – these advancements come at a price – at the cost of ‘real life’ . But it doesn’t just stop there, while we happily shed our silken real life in exchange for the synthetic virtual garb of well connectedness – we heavily pay on various levels, one of the terms being loss of our privacy (1).
With the world constantly plugged in to various devices that enable them to stay “connected”, we are evolving towards a world where a relationship is considered official only when it is updated on Facebook and a news story valid only if it is tweeted about on Twitter! With people constantly trying to exert their presence over various realms of laptops, tablets and mobile phones, we are increasingly exposing ourselves to threats of invasion of privacy. The recent scandals of the phone hacking by a reputed newspaper, the iCloud photo leaks and the concerns over the lobbying of laws requiring phone/internet suppliers to store customer data embody the essence of the problem.
One of the most prized accessory that leaves us the most vulnerable to such types of danger are our app laden ‘smart phones’.The rate at which apps are being developed and released is increasing at an alarming rate with 60 thousand apps being added per month in the Apple app store alone (2)! In fact mobile users are literally glued to their phones spending an average of 2hr 42 mins per day (3). As if the ‘plain’ GPS trackers on our phones weren’t enough, the app developers have had another ‘eureka’ moment where they have introduced apps which can stalk people using their very on phones! I do understand the usefulness of such apps in tracking the whereabouts of your children or family members (with their consent – of course, its a legal necessity, duh!) for purposes of keeping a watchful eye or just merely guiding them when they need directions; what shocks me, however, is the fact that people actually use these apps to stalk their partners!! Apps such as ThaiSpy, Couple tracker, mCouple and mSpy are just a few of the offerings on the market that allow people to check their partners call histories, text messages, Skype histories, and their social media activity (4,5)!
On digging a little deeper into the matter I realised that the creep-apps were just the tip of the iceberg. Not only are partners using them to detect cheating partners, they are also using them to gain evidence. There are increasing accounts of partners trying to snoop on their ‘better halves’ being documented in several divorce cases with these apps supplying the data for strengthening the argument in favour of the stalker (6, 7). While spying without consent is illegal, there are still quite a few grey areas when it comes to spouse related spying – for there is willing sharing of information including passwords which assist misuse. There are additional rules to curb the misuse of such softwares, rules like a person having legal authority over the phone being monitored is one such grey area.
While there are some laws, varying from country to country which deem such stalking illegal, there is no concrete law (there lies our first problem!) – it is worthwhile to note here that the development of such apps is completely legal. Furthermore the app developers wash their hands of the legal responsibility but inserting few rules in the agreement (not to mention they also rob you with their extortionist service subscription prices). This would mean you’d have to be desperate
? to get an app to stalk your partner – rather than just being honest with them ( *rows of red flags*). But I digress..
With our futures increasingly relying on technology and the internet, there is an increasing requirement for our legal systems to be constantly on their toes, revisiting and amending laws to accommodate these increasing threats. But we cannot solely rely on a change of laws (which may take eons considering the snail pace) alone. On a personal front, we need to be more aware of the technology we employ and need to educate ourselves on how to minimise our risks. It is true, in the current age of the internet, ‘ignorance is no longer bliss’ and probably curiosity (of the dangers you might be facing) might just save the cat.
Though on a less morbid, lay front, there are people who actually claim that spying actually ‘helped’ their relationships – by increasing trust. In my personal opinion if your relationship is at that point where your partner need to gain trust via a stalking app (*gets the creeps*), I think you definitely should reconsider. But hey, if your partner is flattered by the stalking who am I to judge? Happy stalking 🙂
References (to list a few):