The Spy in Your Cell Phone

TOKYO - JUNE 03:  An employee of KDDI holds a ...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Intriguing privacy news blip at Fast Company about new cell phone tech that allows others to spy on you by tracking your body movements via the phone’s built-in accelerometer.  The software that enables the snooping was created by KDDI Corporation, one of Japan’s largest cell phone makers. 

From the article:

The idea is simple: software is embedded into an employee’s mobile that is connected to a server that analyzes their movements via the phone’s accelerometer. At first, workers will have to input just what action they are performing into their mobiles so that their movements can be interpreted. The system becomes more accurate as time goes on, recognizing each individual’s movements. So, if your boss has asked you to hoover up the nasal hair he clipped before nipping off to lunch with his secretary, he can make sure that you’re performing the task he’s set you, rather than sitting in front of his computer and checking up on your Facebook page–or his.

The tech is marketed by the manufacturer as a tool to make “central monitoring” possible at several locations. Consult your Orwell newspeak translator to properly interpret that phrase.

If you’re wondering (as I was) what accelerometers are used for aside from spying on employees, they also provide the useful function of keeping your laptop from self-destructing every time you tilt or drop it.  They’re also what makes your airbag deploy in a car crash, along with several other important functions.

Which is to say, the accelerometer part of this technology is not really the issue–it’s the software that uses its output for insidious purposes that should be drawing fire. 

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