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Young people think it's OK to track your lover, survey says

Technically Incorrect: An Australian survey of people from 16 to 24 years old suggests the world can't end too soon. Almost half said tracking their partners using technology is just fine.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Ever been tempted to go through your lover's phone? Sarah Tew/CNET

You've done this, haven't you?

Once, maybe twice?

The one you love has left their phone on the coffee table and gone out to the store. You know the password. You go in. You find things, or you don't. But is the relationship ever quite the same again?

For many young people that may not matter. A survey whose results were unveiled Thursday suggests that 46 percent of Australians aged from 16 to 24 thought it was acceptable -- to some degree -- to track significant others using technology without their consent.

This tracking might comprise anything from a sneak peek at a gadget to installing a little tracking software on it, just to see if your significant other's stories about dinner with mom are true.

You might think 16- to 24-year-olds know precious little about relationships. They did, however, grow up with technology at their bosoms. Perhaps they feel it's such a normal presence that anything it can do is entirely normal too.

Eighty-four percent of this nationally representative sample thought it was a serious thing to track someone if the person does not know about the tracking. But hey, if you can do it and get away with it, why not? That, at least, appears to be a popular attitude.

The study was conducted in 2013 by the Victoria Health Promotion Foundation. These results emerged from a wider analysis of young people's attitudes with respect to violence against women. Twenty-five percent of these young respondents said violence against your partner could be forgiven if there was remorse. Twenty-four percent said it could be forgiven if it was the result of anger.

Naturally, there are companies that can provide you with stalking software. mSpy is one example.

The company says this is very useful with respect to making sure where your children are. But last year, when I posed as a troubled lover and used a chat feature on mSpy's site to ask about their product, the answers seemed to encourage me a little to spy on my fictional partner.

Still, mSpy's legal agreement reveals that it's considered a "violation of the law in most cases to install surveillance software onto a mobile phone or other device for which you do not have proper authorization, and in most cases you are required to notify users of the device that they are being monitored." The company also says it advocates that customers notify those being tracked, and that its product has built-in features to encourage this.

Perhaps the results of the Australian survey suggest that if people are given technological tools of control, they will use them.

Perhaps the results also suggest that while we're doing all this caring and sharing over the Internet, in fact our trust in other humans is eroding very quickly.

Well, they might be doing a lot of caring and sharing too, right?

(Via The Guardian)