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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/9/2013 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Apps such as 'Saga' have already arrived.

There's an app out for those of you who really like being spied on. Known as "Saga" the app uses your smartphone to detail every aspect of your daily life. And we mean absolutely everything.

It watches you back, and there's no telling who's on the other side of that camera.

It watches you back, and there's no telling who's on the other side of that camera.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/9/2013 (9 months ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Saga, app, lifelogging, recording, spying, marketing, danger, privacy, tracking


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Referred to by its creators as "The Essential Lifelogging App" Saga will use your phone's camera and microphone, as well as other sensors, to determine what you are doing at any given moment. The value, according to the creators, is the ability to "build your lifelog," gain insights into your daily routine, and to "share" and "explore" as you go about your daily doings.

Saga is "lifeblogging, made easy, for everyone," according to its description in the iTunes store.

The description further says, "What is measured, improves - in addition to automatically logging your life, Saga provides you with valuable data and infographics about yourself to help you get more out of life.

Track how much time you spend in transit, at work, or at recurring activities, and compare yourself to other users.

Understand your activity and what types of places you visit most, outside of your home and work.
Optimize your commute time, depending on what time you leave.

Are you a power user? If yes, over time will Saga will start to assign traits based on patterns detected in your behavior. Traits are rewards that Saga gives you for being a unique snowflake."

Essentially, the app is the ultimate tool for the narcissist that wants to record and share their every deed. This might be okay for a few individuals who can't get enough attention and who think their daily routine is worth cataloguing, but for the rest of us, the implications of such a program are chilling.

The existence of this app means that the technology now exists to police our actions and interactions, including speech, down to the very word. Such data is invariably stored (to help gather insights and such) and builds patterns, which can reveal modes of behavior. While such recognition might have some value to a user, marketers, hackers, or less scrupulous government agencies, could also obtain and use the data to drive behavior or to discern private information about an individual.

Essentially, it's the quintessential spying app, even if that wasn't the designer's intent.

The upshot of such an application is that it relieves the user of having to input any data about what they're doing. This makes sharing "frictionless" to use a term popularized by Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Sharing becomes automatic and habitual.

The downside is that it also removes the user from imputing data.

It removes the individual from the equation, aggregating and reporting data that is useful to marketers and others whose interests may not be consistent with your own. It will also permit businesses to spot trends and for city planners to spot patterns, but these patterns may not be of interest to you. Naturally, the creators can sell such data and make money from you.

Such an app can also reveal who you spend time with and where, and any other habits you may have. For example, the app can tell which Starbucks you visit, and at which time, and with whom, if anyone.

As usual, such applications come with the usual promises that nobody can specifically identify you or will use your data in a harmful manner, but we have certainly heard that before.

We must ask ourselves if we are comfortable with living in a high-surveillance world, and the benefits it purports to provide. Is it really worth handing over every aspect of our privacy so an app can automatically log into our social networks and tell our friends that we're too foolish to order appropriately-priced coffee?

Perhaps the better question is, having ripped the lid off Pandora's Box, is it ever possible to close it back?

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