Sneaky Apps That Track Cellphones December 23, 2012
A perversion of smartphone technology called "stalking apps" - precise, secretive trackings of the movements of cellphone users - is increasingly a matter of national concern, particularly for domestic abuse victims. No less threatening is the routine monitoring of children's locales and phone habits for commercial purposes while parents are kept in the dark. Stealth apps even stoop to cyber-leering through the now notorious app called Girls Around Me, which allows men to search out women, unbeknown to them, by cross-matching GPS technology with information and photo sites like Facebook.
With these abuses proliferating, the Senate Judiciary Committee this month took a big step to protect the privacy of all cellphone users and close legal loopholes that enable stalking apps. The committee approved a worthy measure sponsored by Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, that for the first time would require cellphone companies to obtain a user's permission to collect location data and sell it or share it with third parties. It also would flatly outlaw creation of stalking apps, applying criminal and civil penalties.