The South Korean government has developed Smartphone monitoring apps like “smart sheriff” to monitor teenagers’ mobile activity. While receiving a positive response from most parents, it has caused the ire of some cyber security cells and nongovernmental organizations.
The app “smart Sheriff” was primarily developed to block teenager’s access to pornography and other offensive content online, but their features are more extensive. Using these apps, parents can get to know the amount of time their children spend on their Smartphone can disable apps or completely shut down the phone. It can also identify a child’s location, and send alerts to their parents when they search for words like “pregnancy”, “bully”, ”suicide”, etc.
Also Read: 4 Essential Apps For I-Phone
Last month, South Korea’s Korean communication commission issued an order to all telecom companies in the country requiring that smart sheriff or any of the other phone monitoring apps to be installed on the phones belonging to children aged 18 or under. Though this did not apply to old Smartphones, most schools sent out letters to parents urging them to install these apps.
South Korea is one of the richest Asian nations, and most kids own a Smartphone by the time the reach middle school. Excessive and addictive mobile usage by South Korean teenagers powered by cheap, fast internet connections has led to heated debates at home and media.
Though many countries have set up internet regulations, it has never been made mandatory by law in any country. In 2009, Japan issued a similar order, except that it allowed parents to opt out.
Most parents support this move by the government. Some parents are of the opinion that this improved dialog in the family and patched up the parent-child relationship.
However, legal experts say that Korea’s telecom commission has taken an alarming step by legalizing huge amounts of personal , sensitive data belonging to the teenagers without considering its consequences. “It is the same as installing a surveillance camera in teenagers’ phones,” says Kim Ka Yuen, a general counsel at open net Korea, a nonprofit organization appealing against this move by the government. Cyber security companies also warn that these apps can be misused and can be installed on a phone without the owner’s knowledge. “This could be the official spying app,” says the CEO of a cyber security company.
Hence, some teenagers plan to buy a Smartphone only at 19 so that they can use their phones freely without worrying about any intrusion into their privacy. Cho Jaehyun, 17, says,” We do not always use the phone for something bad.” He says that it restricts the freedom of speech
All parents are not in the loop either. Park choel-hee, father of a 10 year old, says South Korea imposes too many regulations and that this move will backfire by the rising of a generation of people who will not be able to think for themselves.