Posted at 11:15 AM on July 27, 2010
by Eric Ringham
Sometimes it's hard to tell when someone is pulling our leg. This promotional e-mail struck me as a joke, but on subsequent readings I'm not so sure. The ad is selling an iPhone 4 app that lets you ... um ... confirm your family's whereabouts. You know, to be sure they're safe:
"Family Tracker allows you to track your wife, husband, children and fiancée 24/7 using the new multitasking feature in the Apple iOS4.
"The new Family Tracker runs in the background on the iPhone, constantly updating its GPS location. Spouses can thus instantly know their partner has safely reached their destination at home, work or during long trips. Parents can know if their children are exactly where they should be, and didn't sneak out without permission. ... Privacy concerns are nonexistent, as the owner of the iPhone has to give prior consent in order to be tracked. Family Tracker allows peace of mind [by] letting you know where all your family members are at all times."
That's a nice touch, including the "fiancée" among the people you might want to track. Another nice touch is dismissing the obvious privacy problems with a breezy assertion that the target - excuse me, the fiancée - has at some point agreed to the deal. The agreement, we can assume, was the price of getting the Coolest. Phone. Ever. Made.
Dad: Honey ... kids. As you were. I have the phones you requisitioned. Before I issue them to you, I'll need you to click "I agree" on the "Family Tracker Target Consent Form." Then I'll be able to pinpoint your location anytime I don't have a visual on you. This is for my peace of mind.
Great idea! Let's use technology to take the guesswork out of relationships. Who needs trust and accountability, when you have an iPhone 4 with a killer app?
One of my nieces has that app to keep track of her children. The same niece takes and makes phone calls everywhere and anywhere, including while driving. She also Facebooks nonstop and sometimes it's too much information. I don't get it. Am I now in OldFogieLand?
I really don't like this trend. Tracking people so you know their whereabouts at any time?!? I hate to sound paranoid, but it seems like a slippery slope towards the eventual micro-chipping of every citizen. I won't even buy a GM car w/Onstar because I see it as a tracking device. I don't want people knowing where I am every minute of the day. Ok, so I'm a tiny bit paranoid. Can you blame me?!?
That app has "stalker" written all over it. Also, "abuser". It's totally creepy.
I think there is a hidden assumption here. Is the link between person and phone so strong that locating one will invariably locate the other?
Troubling that it is probably true.
Although reading Kenney's post made me think of another use for this: Where did I leave my phone? That would be handy today. And by the way, if you're reading this, honey, don't bother trying to call me.
I agree with Heather. This is sick. (And by "sick" I don't mean "cool;" I mean "sick.")