Do you get cold creeps when your kid is half an hour late from school or from soccer practice? Are you the one who recalls Desperate Housewives, when your spouse gets a call from an attractive colleague or friend? Do you get a pang in the solar plexus, every time you get an anxious call from your home-nurse, as your amnesiac parent may have gone for another walk on his/her own? Are you an employer who doesn’t want hard earned money to be wasted over employees’ gossips? Then mobile monitoring will surely give one or two sighs of relief.
The concept of mobile monitoring has been around for quite a long time. The intent behind the monitoring is, of course, tracking and surveillance. Initially, mobile monitoring was used as just a tracking device reliant on its GPS system, but with the advent of mobile technology, tracking the data has also become possible. Now, it isn’t just the location, but also key details about the conversations that can be procured for effective monitoring and surveillance.
Mobile monitoring applications, developed and marketed by international companies, are available in India for quite some time now. By the looks of it, Indian firms are also following suit. Easy logger, the first Indian SMS and cell phone monitoring application, developed by an Indian establishment and is faring well in the market for the last two years, serves to thousands of clients. This application, which works on all Android phones, provides real time tracking for a comparatively inexpensive price of Rs 7 per day and runs a variety of features such as identifying the location and logging app usage data with advance reporting capabilities on the cloud.
Methodically speaking, mobile monitoring helps enormously on every account, be it economic, operational or security. But to make its use extensive, doubts about the ethicality of its use needs to be discussed. It is imperative that the innovation should be ethically assimilated into the fabric of society. There should be a synergy between the usability and its ethicality to justify its use value.
The usability of the mobile monitoring system should be understood in three contexts, namely care, control and convenience.
Mobile monitoring may help parents to know the whereabouts of their kids on real time basis. It could act as a hand of God if one’s child is kidnapped or is in any kind of danger. It could also be used for tracking the elderly and would serve as a blessing to someone who takes care of elders suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, as it would help one to keep a constant watch.
Mobile monitoring can also be used by the corporates for vehicle tracking and employee monitoring. Vehicles fitted with mobiles having a mobile monitoring application would not only identify the location of the vehicle, but also would give an idea about how efficiently the fleet is working. Similarly, an employer can track whether employees are engaged in productive activities or otherwise. It not only helps parents to know the lifestyle of their kids and the activities they are involved in, but also helps in tracking how they are spending most of their time, whether they are involved in too much of gaming or are spending their time with educational applications.
If one has to justify the use of mobile monitoring, then the application ought to be convenient enough. The platforms or the interfaces with the inherent system could be easily understood even by a layman and it would be rather helpful if it is an online system with various data and reports in a user friendly version.
Even with the above usability of mobile monitoring, the “acceptable use” is more of a grey area. This indecisiveness can only be tackled if the ethical questions are rightly answered. Most of the ethical issues surrounding mobile monitoring can be categorized into privacy, accuracy, property and accessibility.
The biggest concern of mobile tracking is the amount of information that should be deduced from the data generated. Whether the parents need to know just the location of their kids, or whether they should be able to track every action and movement of theirs, is a question of diplomatic dispute. Whether kids have the right to decide the limits of their privacy or at what age do they become old enough to have that kind of understanding, needs to be answered. An employer can be alerted if the time spent by the employee on personal calls exceeds a time limit. But is it necessary for the employer to know every intrinsic detail of his/her employee’s conversations? This is yet another tricky question to be retorted mindfully. This is to say that while setting the limits of data extraction through mobile monitoring; one needs to establish the boundaries of surveillance and should assure that a person’s privacy is not breached beyond the set point.
Mobile monitoring application may throw some inaccurate data which can lead to wrong analysis and sometimes it may lead to disastrous consequences. So the mobile monitoring application provider should be responsible for the authenticity, fidelity and the accuracy of the information within reasonable limits.
The ownership of the information should be clearly defined and agreed upon before opting for mobile monitoring. Similarly the accessibility of the service should also be properly demarcated and the required systems should be in place to make sure that the data should not be accessed by any other individual than intended.
If the arguments of usability justify the above arguments of ethicality, then mobile monitoring could be used for the purpose of a better life. Many of these applications such as Easy logger Cell Phone Tracker are available on Google Play.