iPhone Self Tracking Straight From 1984

iphone, technology, nsa, backdoor, orwell, 1984

iPhone accommodates self-tracking apps that seem have to come straight from George Orwell’s book,  1984. There are different hypotheses on the purposes of these apps. Some people believe that self tracking apps are an easy way for someone to track someone else’s daily habits and some agree that self tracking may be intended to help improve life by organization, understanding health, or what may affect moods.

Orwell’s 1984, published in 1949, was about a diabolical totalitarian world in which the tyranny was dictated by Big Brother. Consisting of government surveillance, mind control of the public, and a state of authoritarianism that manipulated the past, free thought or expressions of individuality were prohibited. The “thought police” could arrest one for “thought crime” or “face crime,” and to even think of anything abnormal to the collectivism was the worst crimes of all.

“The smallest thing would give you away,” states an excerpt from 1984.  Even a minute tic, a bad habit, reflex response or even those that seemingly talk to themselves a great deal. “Big Brother” is watching.

Last year, Edward Snowden leaked important National Security Agency (NSA) information. He claimed that every single person’s phone metadata was inspected and collected into an NSA database. The NSA denied this accusation at first, then later admitted that the mass compilation of all Americans’ data was crucial to tracking terrorists. The outrage from the American people was considerable. Constitutionalists described it as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Searching through someone’s personal information or data was constitutional abuse, even if one had nothing to hide.

The term “Big Brother” from 1984 was used more frequently along with the famous quote “Big Brother is watching you.” President Obama recently televised the “definition” of what spying was and limited the NSA collection of telephone records. The honesty behind these limitations was contestable.

There were many speculations that Apple had been working with the NSA in creating a backdoor into the Apple products, including the iPhone. Talk about self tracking straight from 1984, the iPhone contains every piece of information about the holder, so if someone wants to know anything about anyone, hacking into an iPhone would be an obvious plan A.

 The hacking software was called DROPOUT JEEP. According to leaked documents Der Spiegel, DROPOUT JEEP was designed to hack into files, texts, list of contact information, locations and was able to activate the camera and microphone. Apple denied partaking in the development of this software, but like anything possibly heard through the media, it is debatable if the denial was can fully be trusted.

The iPhone self tracking apps can literally track, collect and store everything and anything in someone’s life. These apps can collect on record who someone is, who they are with, what they are doing, how they are feeling, what they are eating, their health,their caloric intake, when they are at home or work, when they are asleep and how restful that sleep is, when they wake up, etc. and that is not an exaggeration.

Moonpanda and Mappiness are mood trackers. Moonpanda rates the person’s mood on a scale of zero to ten and also allows that person to add a brief comment on why they may be feeling that way. Mappiness works the same way, prompting someone a few times a day, tracking how someone is feeling, who they are with, where they are and what they are doing. That information is then anonomously collected and analyzed.

Foursquare and Momento are location trackers. These apps find the location of the person using GPS. They allow journal writing where one is to tag people from their address book.

Sleep Cycle and Wakemate are sleep analyzers. They analyze sleeping patterns calculated by a built-in accelerometer that detects motions while sleeping. They can determine how deep or light one is sleeping.

Then there are the iPhone apps that track literally everything. There is an app called Cataphora’s Digital Mirror which inspects a persons email to learn their social habits. Body Media and Daily deeds track daily habit, activities, food consumption and calorie intake. Fluxstream can track those things, as well as identifying someone’s strengths and weaknesses. Daytum may sound extreme to many. This particular iPhone App collects and communicates everything in someone’s life. It can track anything from how many applications someone filled out, to how many times someone looked in the mirror on a daily basis. This app keeps statistical records of what someone does in order to compile someone’s specific daily habits.

The true intention for these apps is debatable but the use is very diverse depending on the person and their mind-set. Some people believe the apps are for fun due to boredom. Some people may think it could improve their organizational and time management skill. Some may agree the apps may help them understand which habits in their life need to be altered. Then there are the people who believe these iPhone self tracking apps are straight from 1984…because “Big Brother is watching you.”

By Brittany Varner-Miller


Qualified Self

the daily beast

Washington post 

USA today

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