Truth, trust and surveillance technology

The ability to monitor a partner’s cell phone has disturbing implications

A form of surveillance technology, promoted as a way to increase peace of mind, has some disturbing implications.

The technology is a way of covertly monitoring emails, text messages and other forms of communication on someone else’s phone.

It has been promoted as a way for a woman to determine if her husband or partner is cheating, or as a way to catch sexual predators online.

It takes a few minutes with physical access to the phone in order to install the necessary software. Then the record of online communications is quietly delivered to the one monitoring the online behaviour.

The person on whose phone the software is installed will not be able to detect it.

Cheaters and predators beware. Your secret phone calls or text messages will be secret no longer. Your actions could come back to haunt you.

Technology to monitor online activity is nothing new. For example, in Canada it is legal for employers to monitor employee computer use, although there are some limits to this.

But monitoring a workplace computer is not the same as installing spyware or tracking every message and call on a partner’s phone.

Privacy advocates are uncomfortable with this surveillance technology.

But those who promote it will ask how anyone could question a technology which could expose a cheater or a sexual predator.

Should opposing or even questioning such technology be seen as taking the side of the cheater or the predator instead of supporting the victim?

Besides, why should personal privacy be a concern?

The reasoning is that there is no need to hide one’s actions unless those actions are illegal or shameful. Only the guilty have to keep secrets.

It’s not quite that simple.

There are some valid questions to ask about this or any other technology which allows such covert monitoring.

To start, what happens if an easily available monitoring software falls into the wrong hands? Could this technology be used to provide an unwanted person with access to banking details or other personal information?

Fraud and identity theft are serious matters, and as a result, privacy and security are extremely important for any device which provides online access.

Even if the technology can be used without any potential security breaches, there is the question of its effectiveness.

Surveillance technology may reveal messages which expose a cheater or a predator. And if that happens, the monitoring software has served its purpose.

But if there are no messages to suggest a parter is cheating, would this lack of evidence be enough to exonerate the suspected cheat? Or would a lack of such communications simply suggest the spouse is still cheating, but not using the cell phone to make calls or send messages?

If these questions are raised, the software is doing nothing to bring peace of mind.

At this point, the discussion moves away from technology to something far more uncomfortable.

At issue is a lack of trust.

If one person in a relationship feels the need to stealthily monitor a partner’s messages, something has gone horribly wrong in the relationship.

Once trust has deteriorated to this level, is there any way it can ever be restored?

Ultimately, this becomes the most important question to consider before installing surveillance technology on a partner’s phone.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Interior Health will not expand Police and Crisis Team

Southeast Division Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli asked IH to expand the program

High water and flooding hits Clearwater

Potential for roadblock on Clearwater Valley Road due to potential washouts

Tk’emlups, Simpcw First Nations chiefs call on Tiny House Warriors to leave Blue River protest camp

“The Tiny House Warriors are not from Simpcw, nor are they our guests in our territory.”

District of Barriere Utilities Manager reports to council on Barriere wells

District of Barriere Utilities Manager Ian Crosson presented a verbal report during… Continue reading

Thunder rolls and the North Thompson River is still rising

With a wet start to summer in the North Thompson area, Environment… Continue reading

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

Most Read