All this week at my IT job I have been installing a piece of software on all the netbooks that the students use. This software is designed so that the teacher can see the screen of every student’s computer. Since most teachers actually want their students to use the computers to do work and not play games during class, it was nice to see how the software helps the teachers enforce those rules by being able to see the student’s screens. After working with this software all week I was kind of wondering if their was a version for tablets, since I know tablets will eventually replace netbooks completely, and we have 60 iPads floating around the school.
While I was looking I came across a new piece of software called PeekTab, that claims to be the world’s first spyware for tablets. It is available for Android tablets, iPads (only if they are jailbroken) and soon to be the BlackBerry Playbook, according to their website. The app is installed secretly so that the user never knows it’s actually running. It then reports what the tablet is doing through the internet. It has access to all kinds of information, including GPS, supposedly so you can see where your kid is with the tablet.
While I feel like the ability to use a piece of software to keep student’s on track is one thing, the features that this software has are a little over the top. It can log every email you send, every Facebook post, every picture you take, and so much more. If that’s not an invasion of privacy I don’t know what is. PeekTab is marketed to employers and parents, and I don’t think either of those groups should be able to track all of the data that PeekTab collects. A good parent should already be able to monitor all their child’s accounts, and if I thought my boss even was thinking about using this software to monitor every email I wrote I would hand my tablet right back to him, and I have nothing in my emails that I would want to hide. The amount of information this software collects should come with legal documents that the employee signs when it is installed on their tablet.
It’s one thing to control access to certain sites from work machines, it’s another story completely to collect this kind of information. Again, it’s one thing to watch student’s computers to make sure they aren’t playing games, but I would never be involved in something that could collect emails and even passwords. That to me is way over the top, and if you can’t trust your employee or child to use their tablet with at least some common sense, then maybe they don’t deserve to use it at all. Maybe I’m thinking a little bit extreme, but to me this piece of software goes way beyond normal boundaries. What would you think if your employer wanted to be able to spy on your tablet? Oh, and if you are interested to know about what happens when people have too much power in their technology, just take a look at this article.[PeekTab]