Google may or may not be popping popcorn for the NSA’s dramatic reading of your GChats, but the second you try to PRISM your boyfriend they are suddenly real sticklers about privacy. Google Play app store pulled Brazil’s Rastreador de Namorados — Portuguese for “Boyfriend Tracker” — off virtual shelves last week after complaints, the AP reports. The free app, which has been downloaded about 50,000 times in its first two months, features GPS tracking of the target phone’s location, BCCing you on all its text-message traffic, and making the target phone silently butt-dial your own, so you can eavesdrop. It must be surreptitiously uploaded to the target phone in order to work, and for an extra $2 the app will make its telltale icon disappear.
Developer Matheus Grijo told the AP that Boyfriend Tracker was a hit because of Brazil’s “culture of switching partners really quickly,” but similar apps have enjoyed popularity all over. Kare Log, a Japanese version of Boyfriend Tracker that could even tell you how much battery life your partner’s phone had, was pulled from virtual shelves in 2011 after people complained that it had been downloaded to their phone without their consent. The same year, American smartphone users admitted to using the “Find My Friends” app to stalk their “loved” ones. “I got my wife a new 4s and loaded it up without her knowing,” one such fellow bragged in a computer forum. “I just texted her asking where she was and the dumb b!otch said she was on 10th Street!! Thank you Apple, thank you App Store, thank you all. These beautiful treasure trove of screen shots going to play well when I meet her a$$ at the lawyer’s office in a few weeks.” Jealousy, it seems, is the truly universal language.
The potential for abuse with these apps is nothing short of terrifying (for most, jilted lovers are much deadlier than the CIA), but I also wouldn’t be surprised if consensual partner tracking caught on. We already know teens consider password sharing the height of intimacy.