The newly launched “Boyfriend Tracker” app is generating plenty of buzz as it’s been downloaded tens of thousands of times in Brazil in only two months. While there has been plenty of discussion about privacy in Brazil and elsewhere, snooping has a long tradition, and the “Boyfriend Tracker” is just latest tool to keep tabs on a partner suspected of cheating.
The “Rastreador de Namorados” app, which translates to “Boyfriend Tracker,” was available for a short time for Android devices in Brazil in the Google Play story before it was removed by Google, the Associated Press reported. The app was developed by Matheus Grijo, 24, and can be downloaded from the app’s the official website.
Grijo’s “Boyfriend Tracker” lets users obtain a call history, receive any incoming or outgoing text messages, identify a partner’s location on a map using GPS, and can turn on the phone to listen in to the surrounding environment. The app also lets users know when a phone is turned off or set to Airplane Mode. The app has to be downloaded on the intended individual phone, with their consent, according to Grijo. The individual can then text message codes to turn on the various tracking options.
According to the A.P., the app has been downloaded 50,000 times since it launched two months ago and was pulled from Google Play due to privacy concerns. There were fears the app could be used to stalk or extort individuals, although Grijo, who spoke to the A.P., said he checked with a lawyer to ensure the app did not violate any laws. The website also has a disclaimer that says the app should only be used for recreational purposes.
The app is free to download. However, a $2 version of “Boyfriend Tracker” that has an invisible icon is available; the free version uses a visible icon on the phone. Grijo told the A.P., “In Brazil, we have this culture of switching partners really quickly, so this is a way of dealing with that.”
Opponents of the app say it violates the privacy laws that were established last year in response to the extortion of Carolina Dieckmann, an actress whose nude photos leaked online after refusing to pay $5,000 to hackers, according to the A.P. The app could be easily be misused, opponents argue, and put an individual’s privacy, and personal security, in jeopardy.
The A.P. report said the connection between the “Boyfriend Tracker” app and privacy in Brazil is ironic: As a result of the publication of the secret documents that Edward Snowden made public, it became clear to many that the U.S. National Security Agency targeted Brazil, and other countries, as part of its spying program. This revelation caused plenty of uproar internationally, and privacy has definitely been a topic of much concern, debate and controversy in Brazil over the last few months.
Despite that, individuals are creating their own boundaries about what may be considered acceptable in regard to privacy, and the idea of spying on a cheating partner seems reasonable for many Brazilians, the A.P. reported.
Grijo said on Facebook that he appealed Google’s decision to ban the app and believes it was in error.
THE TRUTH ABOUT ‘STALKER’ APPS
Spyware that works via GPS is marketed as a way to keep children safe or find lost phones, but a growing number of apps claim users can conduct NSA-level surveillance for less than a cup of coffee.
There are now apps available that allow you to read a partner’s text messages, listen in on calls, and check calendars.
Some even remotely turn on a microphone so users can listen in to what their lover is doing at any time.
For $8 per month, Stealthgenie promises to deliver all of the above functions and be undetectable.
Other apps, like Spy Your Love, ironically claim to work on a ‘trust system’.
The idea is that each member of a couple agrees to constant mutual monitoring of call histories, SMS and Facebook communication.
Others are more brazen. Cheating Boyfriend bills itself as ‘great for suspicious boyfriends or the stalker on the go.’
Then there are technologies like GPS Tracking Pro that are, in theory, marketed to parents.
But in practice, who knows whether the person installing the app is watching her son after school or her boyfriend after work?