SEOUL, May 4 (Korea Bizwire) – SK Telecom presented on May 3 a mobile phone application that many are criticizing as an invasion of privacy and a way for parents to keep their children under constant surveillance and parental influence.
The application called “Cookiz”, which comes with a wearable device, allows real-time monitoring of location and current status of smartphone usage as well as remote control over the smartphone.
For instance, if the parent remotely switches from ‘Free Mode’ to ‘Maximum Studying Mode’, certain pre-selected apps on the smartphone become inaccessible. SK Telecom stated that the application is geared towards minors under the age of 19.
SK Telecom claims that features such as the ‘Maximum Studying Mode’ are part of an effort to help prevent addiction to smartphone usage. However, there is concern that children’s rights to make their own decisions must be honored aside from only honoring parents’ rights to regulate the education of their children.
“A smartphone is a very personal item, and installing apps like Cookiz on a child’s smartphone is a clear invasion of privacy,” said a member of ASUNARO, Action for Youth Rights of Korea. “Korean society is insensitive to the need for parents to honor their children’s basic human rights. Smartphone addiction is a problem that must be solved by communication, not surveillance or manipulation,” he added.
However, it is unlikely for the new application to be considered a breach of law if parents install it after receiving consent from the minor. Concerns remain as to whether such consent will be coerced or voluntary, but in light of other issues, this aspect is trivial.
The experts ultimately concluded that societal discussion is mandatory before mobile communications companies freely add the app to phones without discretion.
SK Telecom Cookiz was released amidst the recent popularity of wearable devices for children such as ‘LINE Kids Phone’ from KT and ‘Juniver Toki’ from LG UPlus.
By Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)