Wednesday 24 April 2019

Using an app to track your partner's phone is not 'caring'- it's just creepy

All so simple: but where has privacy gone – and more importantly, trust.
All so simple: but where has privacy gone – and more importantly, trust.
Sinead Moriarty

Sinead Moriarty

Is tracking your partner's every move, via their mobile phone, keeping an eye on them out of concern for their safety or simply stalking them?

It's all so easy now. Within minutes, you can install an app on your partner's phone which allows you to track all of their movements, read their texts and even listen to their conversations.

When I googled 'apps for spying on your spouse', hundreds of thousands of links came up. Apps to follow your partner's every move are incredibly easy to find and cheap to buy.

One site assured me that its app "will share the best way to control your spouse". Another warned me: "Many spouses cheat. They all use cell phones. Their cell phone will tell you what they won't".

FlexiSpy offers one of the most popular apps available. Its website claims that as well as listening to and recording live phone calls, reading text messages and emails, its app through digital photos. Once the app is installed on the phone of the 'victim', it can also track the phone user's movements using GPS.

It's all so sickeningly simple. Within minutes, I could be following my other half's every move and vice-versa.

Some people claim that it's not about stalking their partner at all. They say it's about knowing where their other half is so they know they're safe.

Last week, in the UK, a woman revealed how her husband had been tracking her texts and conversations via an app on her phone. She was initially shocked, she said, but didn't see it as spying. She saw her husband's actions as a mark of his concern for her well-being.

She either has a wonderful relationship with her husband or she is very naive. What kind of husband needs to read and listen-in on all of his wife's conversations?

Can it be healthy to have no privacy whatsoever from your other half? What if you want to give out about them and have a rant to your best friend? Do they really need to tune in to that particular conversation?

Where is the boundary? Where has privacy gone? Is following your partner's every move really about concern or is it just plain creepy?

Surely this level of control in a relationship is unhealthy? Can you compare these apps to the old ways of snooping when you picked up the extension phone and listened in to conversations?

Is reading someone's texts akin to steaming open letters or reading diaries? Is listening to your partner's voice-mail messages the same as going through the pockets of their jackets?

But these tracking apps are far more sinister than that. This cyber tracking is extremely controlling and means that your partner fundamentally doesn't trust you.

There are growing numbers of women who are being tracked via their mobile phones by abusive partners.

Domestic abuse charities are clear on this point - abusers are increasingly using tracking technology to further terrorise and intimidate women These spying apps are providing another way for perpetrators to exert power and control over women.

Margaret Martin, director of Women's Aid, has said, "Technology is being used by abusive boyfriends and ex-boyfriends to monitor and control women, particularly younger women."

She added that this can include the monitoring of mobile phone calls and texts, and stalking on social media. "Women are also disclosing how they are bombarded with texts and calls often telling them, in explicit detail, how they will be attacked or even killed."

Revenge porn is also on the rise, with many women being photographed and filmed without their consent and the images being uploaded to the internet, or being slandered on social media sites by an ex.

It's alarming how easy it now is to harm and hurt people. All it requires is the click of a button.

According to research by mobilephonechecker.co.uk, three-fifths of men in relationships in the UK claim to have snooped for 'incriminating messages or activity', compared with a third of women.

When asked to reveal if they had ever looked through a current or ex-partner's mobile phone without their knowledge, 62pc of the men and just 34pc of female respondents admitted that they had done so.

When asked for the motivations behind wanting to check up on their partner, 89pc admitted they had done so to see if their partner had been talking to anyone else in a romantic or sexual context.

Who knew? It seems that women are less paranoid and less nosey after all.

But the tracking apps aren't just being used by adults to track other adults. They are also being used increasingly by worried parents.

Parents are desperate to keep their children safe and to protect them from the 'big bad cyber world' and parental scrutiny of phones and laptops is on the rise. They want to know where their child is, who they are 'talking to' and who they are 'friends' with.

With Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat …. most of the monitoring now needs to happen online. But here again we have boundary issues.

Isn't checking your child's emails and texts the same as reading their diaries? Parents are always quick to say they don't want to spy on their children, they simply want to protect them online. But it's difficult to do so without overstepping the privacy boundary.

The main problem with any kind of tracking is setting proper boundaries.

Your children, your wife, your husband, your partner…everyone deserves their privacy.

Irish Independent

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