Publication Details

Abbas, R., Michael, K., Michael, M. G. & Aloudat, A. (2011). Emerging forms of covert surveillance using GPS-enabled devices. Journal of Cases on Information Technology, 13 (2), 19-33.


This paper presents the real possibility that commercial mobile tracking and monitoring solutions will become widely adopted for the practice of non-traditional covert surveillance within a community setting, resulting in community members engaging in the covert observation of family, friends, or acquaintances. This paper investigates five stakeholder relationships using scenarios to demonstrate the potential socio-ethical implications that tracking and monitoring people will have on society at large. The five stakeholder types explored in this paper include: (i) husband-wife (partner-partner), (ii) parent-child, (iii) employer-employee, (iv) friend-friend, and (v) stranger-stranger. Mobile technologies such as mobile camera phones, global positioning system data loggers, spatial street databases, radio-frequency identification and other pervasive computing can be used to gather real-time, detailed evidence for or against a given position in a given context. There are currently limited laws and ethical guidelines for members of the community to follow when it comes to what is or is not permitted when using unobtrusive technologies to capture multimedia, and other data (e.g. longitude and latitude waypoints) that can be electronically chronicled. The evident risks associated with such practices are presented and explored herein.

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