Self-surveillance and privacy
#233 Henry, Friday, 03 April 2015 8:50 AM (Category: Apps)
(Tags: app moves waze privacy surveillance)

In 2013, I went home to Australia for a short visit. My brother introduced me to an iPhone app that I took to - Moves. It tracks where you go. It really tracks where you go. If you have your iPhone with you, it tracks your every move. I have used it for over a year. If I needed to know what I was doing and where I was any time last year, I have a near 100% chance of telling you precisely. Apart from maybe two hours in the last year when Moves wasn't recording my moves, it has a precise record of everything. I use it to keep track of how long it takes me to get to work, what time I arrive at work, how long I take for lunch, what time I leave work and what time I get home. If I need to, I can see what route I took to work. It tracks my every movement. If there are queries about my work hours, I have a total record.

Getting to work My route to work

It also tracks my steps. I get pleasantly surprised some days when I reach a record at the end of a day. Last Saturday, we went to see Camelot at Chrysler Hall, and somehow I managed to do a lot of walking and Moves congratulated me on it.

Walking to Camelot

So on my iPhone, and presumably on the servers of the Move app, this data is stored. If I need to know where I was any time in the last last year, and I mean any time in the last year, I can look in Moves and I can tell you. It's amazing. I have installed a tracking device on myself and I am tracking everything I do. This data is available from Moves, and any law enforcement people can request this data and they can track everywhere I have been. I am recording all this voluntarily, and it might be to my detriment. I don't know.

What else do I use? Waze. I drive with Waze to help me navigate through the crappy traffic around me. My driving habits are recorded and stored on my iPhone, and if I signed up for an account which I did, it's stored up there. Hell, it's stored up there anyway with details of the iPhone, but with an account they just have a little bit more data about you.

But let's look at what's on my phone. My contacts, my calendar, all the data in my health app, all the data in Moves and Waze. Google search tracks me in ways I don't like, but I keep using it. Google tracks me in other ways with GMail, and Google Drive, and Sheets and Docs, and Google Voice, and all these services that I willingly use because they are useful, they let other people track me to a very precise degree. My life is being recorded in my iPhone, and I am doing it to myself. If I was accused of a crime, maybe it would be useful to prove that it could not have been me. If I was accused of something I didn't do, maybe it could get me into trouble. If I wanted to do naughty things, I should leave my phone home so there is no record of it. I just have to hope that I stay worthless and insignificant and none of this self-surveillance is going to be used against me.

More thought needed.

There is a downside to using Moves, quite apart from my voluntary loss of privacy. It chews into the battery. I have to charge the phone daily.