Little Brother may be watching

For someone who is not a “techie,” an amazing – but a bit scary – demonstration this week made us wonder who besides Big Brother is watching.

Basically, the demonstration showed us how a smartphone can spy on you. And we’re not talking about needing National Security Administration smarts to do it, either.

Some fellows who work with us showed how Google Maps – a free app for smartphones and tablets – can track you from a satellite.

The first view on the smartphone’s screen showed the roof of The Maui News. The person holding the phone (who was standing right next to us) showed up as a blue dot in the middle of the roof.

Just a casual stroll down the hallway of the newspaper building was captured on the screen. As we walked, the blue dot moved on the phone’s screen. After 30 feet or so of walking, we began to feel like a drone target.

Now, we realize that what was being tracked was the GPS location of the phone and that there are no free apps that would let another device track that phone. But we’ll bet there are some unfree ones that will.

New digital magazine The Intercept reported NSA uses “geolocation” (defined as locking on to a SIM card or handset) to track terrorists. The magazine says the information has been used by the military to lock on to drone targets.

We are not paranoid enough to think civilians are going to start offing their neighbors with drones. But we can imagine such technology being used to track an unfaithful spouse or perhaps a thief using it to ascertain when a home or office is empty.

There are countless reasons to want to track people. It appears that smartphone in our pocket is going to make it a lot easier to do – for both the tracker and the trackee.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.