Whether it’s legal for this use, though, is another story:
When Apple released its new iOS 5 operating system to go with its iPhone 4S, it touted a new app called “Find My Friends” as a great way to track and meet up with friends. If they agree, you can see their locations on a map on your screen.
But the app’s enterprising customers are apparently already finding other uses. If the online posts appearing on a chat forum at MacRumors.com are for real, “Find My Friends” may have already claimed its first marriage.
Saturday night on MacRumors, a man saying he lived in New York City posted this:
“Divorcing wife. Thanks iPhone 4s and Find My Friends.
“I got my wife a new 4s and loaded up find my friends without her knowing. She told me she was at her friends house in the east village. I’ve had suspicions about her meeting this guy who live uptown. Lo and behold, Find my Friends has her right there.
“I just texted her asking where she was and the dumb b—- said she was on 10th Street!! Thank you Apple, thank you App Store, thank you all. These beautiful treasure trove of screen shots [sic] going to play well when I meet her … at the lawyer’s office in a few weeks.
“thankfully, she’s the rich one.”
If that’s true, then it seems that all her money couldn’t buy Ms. CheatyPants a brain. If you’ve got a jealous spouse (and something to hide from him), do you really WANT to accept a fully-loaded smartphone from him? Or are you just materialistic and airheaded enough not to care that he could have loaded it with all kinds of spyware? And if you’re going to sleep around, why get (or stay) married? Smart phone, stupid user. That much is obvious.
On the other hand, the legal ramifications of this aren’t so clear. Evidence obtained through a warrantless wiretap is inadmissible in court, but is this that? The software in question is a perfectly legit social-networking app that’s meant to be used consensually, to help you find and meet with friends. It’s not intended for use as a tracking device to help a suspicious mate play private dick — although, if the above is any indication, it CAN serve that purpose, provided that the person being tracked doesn’t know it’s there and that it’s on, following her wherever she goes, and confirming to her mate that she isn’t where she claims to be.
There are other horrible implications to consider as well. Suppose the spouse in question isn’t a cheater, and the one tracking her isn’t looking for grounds to divorce, but she’s a battered wife, and the one tracking her is an abuser. I think it may only be a matter of time before we hear of the first smartphone-assisted domestic murder, if it hasn’t happened already.
And then there are various help-you-cheat apps. The App Store may have to brace for a wave of lawsuits of its own…
In any case, does anyone WANT to be trackable all the time, by whomever, anywhere? I don’t know about you, but I know what MY answer to that one would be.