NEW YORK (PIX11) – Once upon a time, when it came to hi-tech phone surveillance, the NSA used to be the only game in town.
And while some of the capabilities exposed by former contractor Edward Snowden are indeed mind-blowing, these days anyone – from your best friend, to your worst enemy — now has the ability to listen into your most intimate conversations, and it’s only a few smartphone clicks away.
One of the newest apps that puts that kind of once formidable processing power – in the palm of your hands is called Crowd Pilot.
It’s designed with the best intentions, but in the wrong hands – well you get the idea.
Crowd Pilot is the creation of twenty-six year old MIT graduate Lauren McCarthy.
“Part of the purpose is to make us question like, is this wrong or right?” said McCarthy.
The 26-year-old developer – who works out of this lab in downtown Brooklyn — says she was well aware of the ethical and privacy implications that comes with the ability to secretly turn a private call – public.
“It’s meant to ask a lot of question. It’s not real trying to say this ok, or this isn’t ok. It’s allowing you to grapple with it directly,” said McCarthy.
To be fair, you can’t invite others to listen in on your conversations without acknowledging that everyone is aware the app is running.
And these days, you can easily go online and search for a counter-surveillance app to try to ward off any unwanted eavesdropping.
“It’s a loaded gun that there giving to people with not a lot of controls on it,” said McCarthy.
But tech expert Raj Goel says, ultimately, the question of privacy in our daily lives will need to be addressed by the user – not the technology.
“The age of personal surveillance is here. What the Stasi and the city couldn’t only dream of in the 50s and 60s now we can do with a two hundred smartphone. And the real challenge for us as parenting growing up in society is going to be, are our laws up to date? Are we teaching our kids, and our business partners, and our spouses, girlfriends, and boyfriends proper behavior?” said Goel.
Crowd Pilot’s developer, Lauren McCarthy – hopes her work will help us solve an increasingly relevant dilemma:
“When you are actually confronted with something in your hand that you can use, it brings up a whole anything set of questions that are directly affecting you. Not just something you hear about. I think it started a lot of conversations, and that was the main point. So I’m happy about that,” said McCarthy.