Saturday, May 16, 2015

GPS tracking and privacy

Nowadays, Information Technology is essential to maintain our daily life. On the other hand, it can threaten our security and privacy if being used inappropriately. There is a lawsuit about such a controversial technology.

A woman was dismissed by the company. The reason was that she uninstalled an iPhone application. Actually, the app is to track her movement 24 hours.

ITProPortal: Woman fired after deleting compulsory app which tracked her 24/7

She was told about the nature of this application in advance. In addition, she was requested to keep the power of her iPhone on so that she always can get the contact with her customers. It means that her boss can know where she is even in off-duty. She appealed to the court that compulsory utilization of such technology is a violation of privacy.

I guess there is a hidden background in this conflict. Beside this, I agree with her opinion. Employees have no obligation to expose their private life to the company. The company should prepare an option to cancel the tracking temporarily. Before such a silly solution, I will never work for people who cannot stand unless censoring the employees' behavior.

The similar argument occurred in Japan, in the more casual situation. "Karerogu [His Log]," an application attracted attention some years ago. Karerogu regularly sends the positioning information of the smartphone in which it is installed, to another phone. If girls secretly install it into her lover's smartphone, she can track his movement. Any activities of him, e.g. going to another girl's home, or visit a sex shop, are revealed immediately.

Wikipedia: Karerogu (in Japanese)

After the release of initial version, Karerogu was broadly criticized although there has been no lawsuit cases about it. The developer amended the program, enabling the smartphone in which Karerogu is installed to know when the GPS is working. I think most people deemed Karerogu as a joke app, not intending to make it use seriously.

Tracking system itself is quite convenient. It prevents children, pets, and people with dementia from being missed. Delivery service providers also benefit from it.

GPS tracking has been also utilized in forensic mental health services. In some facilities, offenders with mental disorders are temporally released with equipping the GPS. This solution looks a little fearful. Indeed, however, the introduction of GPS tracking is expected to shorten the duration of hospitalization of them without increasing security problems.

British Journal of Psychiatry: Can electronic monitoring (GPS ‘tracking’) enhance risk management in psychiatry?

Modern technology has double faces. The choice is ours.

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