App used to stalk partners “could be used for extortion or stalking”
Google Play has removed an app from its store amid concerns that it abuses privacy.
The app, called "Rastreador de Namorados" (Portuguese for Boyfriend Tracker), acts as "a detective in your pocket", allowing jealous girlfriends to track their partner’s location, forward duplicates of text messages, and even force their partner’s phone to silently call their own, so they can listen in on conversations.
According to a report by the Associated Press, the Boyfriend Tracker app has been downloaded 50,000 times since its launch about two months ago.
"In Brazil, we have this culture of switching partners really quickly, so this is a way of dealing with that," said Matheus Grijo, a 24-year-old Sao Paulo-based developer behind Boyfriend Tracker.
"People really appreciate having a tool to help them find out whether they’re being cheated on."
Grijo acknowledged that some people were against the idea but claimed that the response from users had been positive. He added that his lawyer vetted the app before it was published, and determined that it did not violate any Brazilian laws.
Google said that it does not comment on why apps are removed from the Play store. However, some people in Brazil argue that it breaks an anti-online harassment and hacking law, which came into in place in April after nude photos of Brazilian actress Carolina Dieckmann were leaked by hackers.
"We are waiting for Google’s position on the removal of ‘Boyfriend Tracker’ from Google Play, which we consider an error," read a posting on a Facebook page Grijo set up for the app.