File this under 'close surveillance' - SeenEarly is a new Android app that keeps a record of all your mobile phone activity (including SMS, MMS, calls, web browsing and GPS locations) and lets your peruse back through it at your leisure.
It is a little bit disconcerting to see all that intricate data on your mobile phone habits laid out in front of you, but if you continue using the service for several years it could become a kind of diary of your life, which you can browse back through whenever you like.
Well, you and whoever else you give access to the information. SeenEarly hopes that some parents will use the software to nip phone-bullying in the bud. If parents can see what messages their kids are receiving and when, they can check that nothing untoward or disturbing is going on.
As children are getting phones at younger and younger ages, it makes sense for parents to be able to monitor this kind of thing and SeenEarly is keen to point out that such restrictions and monitoring is already widely done on children's use of the internet. It becomes a little murkier as children grow older; when do you draw the line? Having your messages read is a huge invasion of privacy, especially in your teens.
The other major use of the app that SeenEarly envisages is for corporate companies to monitor employees' use of their company handsets. Having already worked with several major handset manufacturers to benchmark things like battery life, the software could also ensure that the chosen handsets are living up to the employees' needs. On a slightly less-trusting note, they can also record employees' GPS locations as they use the phone which could highlight slacking off or wrong-doing...
It's obvious that there are shady possibilities ensconced in the workings of the app - although the handset owner needs to confirm that they are happy for the account owner to access their data, there's nothing to stop a jealous lover "borrowing" their partner's handset or similar. We could also see police and other authorities using the software to monitor suspects' activity which raises privacy concerns again.
One good point to note is that SeenEarly is dead set against selling your data on to marketing companies - the only people who'll use the data will be those with access to the desktop account.
When used correctly, SeenEarly can be a really interesting social history of you and your handset; but we can't help but feel that greater privacy controls should be required to stop misuse should the software fall into the wrong hands.
For now, SeenEarly will cost $9.99 as a one-off fee - later, the app will move to a $9.99 per year model - so get in there quick! There will also be a free version to try it out and SeenEarly will be available on BlackBerry, iPhone, Symbian and MeeGo at some point in the future.