The right to privacy is a basic human right enshrined in most countries’ basic or founding laws. It is a right that rings true and continuous even with the global breakdown of privacy barriers due to the birth of the internet. We all know the benefits that the internet has provided for us but only some of us even talk about the dangers that the cyberworld has to offer. To start off, easier communication to others even across the globe may mean easier access to loved ones but it also means easier access to strangers. There have been rampant instances of people getting harassed, stalked and defrauded by strangers that they never even met. Coupled with the anonymity that the online world can offer anyone who ventures into its web, the internet is a breeding ground for malicious people who will use every opportunity for their own improper intentions.
These kinds of crime are especially hard to handle since the online interactions between the perpetrator and the victim are done in the privacy of their own homes or in most cases, the privacy of their smartphones. Most victims are even reluctant to share their private messages due to embarrassment and the chance of public ridicule. What is more dangerous is the fact that these crimes often happen to children without their parents knowing anything about it. One way to prevent such a thing from happening is for parents to maintain constant surveillance over their children including their private messages. Apps that can track SMS, Social media interactions and other online conversations have recently been used by authorities and parents to help in tracking their children’s activities and making sure that they do not fall victim to such crimes.
The question remains however whether parents are allowed by law to track their children’s online activities for their security with the use of Sms tracking apps. It is a highly debatable legal issue since it deals with the right to privacy of these children against their own parents. There is however a loophole to this legal issue and that is ‘getting consent.’ When a parent and a child both agree to keep track of the other using such apps then there is no legal issue to even speak of. The child or the parent effectively waives his or her right to privacy by consenting to such monitoring from the other party.
The problem lies however in situations where parents use SMS tracking apps without the consent of their children. This is especially true for children are already being victimized by online abusers such as “groomers.” Groomers tend to manipulate a child in not trusting anyone even their own family. In such situations the child effectively keeps the “abuse” as secret as possible. When a parent notices the situation and tries to monitor their child’s behavior by using an app to track his or her online activities due to a suspicion of potential abuse, will that parent be held liable for violating his or her child’s right to privacy? Or will that parent be absolved due to the fact that it is his or her obligation to keep his or her child safe from any harm by using any means possible? Both sides have significant legal backing and will probably depend on how a court will view the circumstances that revolve around a certain incident. The answer may depend on a case-to-case basis. But for now, parents can be assured that the option to help prevent any type of online abuse from happening to their child is out there. Whether their use of it is be legal or not will depend entirely on them in the end.