The app, called ‘Rastreador de Namorados’ (translated from Portuguese to ‘Boyfriend Tracker’), was released about two months ago and according to its developer Matheus Grijo, had attracted about 50,000 users. But last week, Google pulled the app. A spokesperson told The Associated Press that Google doesn’t comment on why an app has been removed, but critics of tracking apps like these say that they’re a violation of privacy rights.
But that doesn’t seem to have slowed down interest in the app in Brazil.
“Brazilians are a jealous people, what can I say? Of course it’s going to be popular,” Marcia Almeida, a woman in Rio who attributes her divorce seven years ago to infidelity.
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To use the app, a user had to first install the software on their partner’s phone, which seems like a significant privacy violation in the first place. Using SMS and GPS (“no Internet required!” the website decries), you could get updates about your partners whereabouts via text, receive duplicate text messages incoming to their phone, and even force a phone to call the curious party, so you could listen in to your partner’s phone conversations.
Listening to phone calls? Reading texts? If you think that sounds like some recent news about the U.S. NSA and their use of cell phone data, you wouldn’t be too far off. And as Brazil was one of the countries targeted in the NSA operation, you would assume that this kind of software would strike more of a chord with Brazilians. According to Almeida, though, that’s not the case.
“It’s a different type of spying,” she told AP. “You’re checking up on someone you know intimately, not a stranger.”
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