'I Keep a Close Watch on This Child of Mine': A Moral Critique of Other-Tracking Apps

Katleen Gabriels

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceUnpublished paper


Smartphones and mobile applications are omnipresent in our present-day lives. At the core of this paper are ‘other-tracking apps’, i.e. mobile applications that make it possible, via location technology, to track others. These apps ensure that we are never unconnected from the network of ubiquitous information and, via that network, from others. Our situation is hence one of ‘continuous connectivity’.
In specific, focus lies on apps designed for parents to remotely track the movement of their child(ren). This particular case can be considered as one example of broader reflection on what continuous technical connectivity means in moral terms. Other-tracking apps give new ground to moral queries related to information technologies. A remarkable field of tension is at play here: on the one hand, the app promises continuous connectivity and ‘togetherness’ with the other; on the other hand, there is the distance of the other in this network of data and information.
Throughout this paper, a number of concerns are expressed and discussed. Ultimately, our concern is that these apps bring us too close to the other, as they engender a situation of ‘overproximity’. An ethical framework is required that emphasizes maintaining the proper, critical distance, to respect the other’s autonomy and privacy.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventCEPE-IACAP - University of Delaware, Delaware, United States
Duration: 22 Jun 201525 Jun 2015


CountryUnited States


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