A conversation turned spooky when I was asked what sort of tools could run on an iPhone to show location awareness without the person seeing a running application. I blew this thought off as applications on the iPhone do not run in the background.
Well an invite I received today for Stalqer changed that whole theory. The URL invite came from a Facebook friend with http://Stalq.me/useridentity and clicking it asked me immediately to launch iTunes and install the application. So the hunt was on. many of you know I also run the site SocialStalking, so I took particular interest in this.
The application relies on you being connected to the person via Facebook and will even attempt to gather their location without them loading the app or having an iPhone. It pulls recent postings, notes, pictures and whatever else it can on the person to help guess or establish their location. If they have the application on their iPhone, it runs utilizing email services.
What transpires, is that the iPhone will automatically check for email about every fifteen (15) minutes or so. When this happens, the Stalqer application takes the email connection it makes and attempts to locate where you are when connecting based on GPS, cell tower or wifi connectivity.
From there you are able to see where others are on a map and even some augmented reality. While they have privacy controls that allow you to protect who sees your location and to what level, the unsuspecting person would not have any idea it was there. Quite the spy tool for someone stalking someone that had access to their iPhone/iTunes to load the application.
This is different from all other location based services and games, such as Brightkite/FourSquare/Loopt and others in that those requir you to launch into the application and check yourself in. Stalqer is a means to have a built in task (email) show where you are every 15 minutes down to a very pinpointed level.
The social graph of your friends is the deciding factor of who sees the data itself. If the person is not on your Facebook friend list, they cannot see the application data.
However the remainder stands true also. If they are on your friend list, have had access to your iPhone and are now in some flux level of friendship, or a bit nuts, I would make sure you are aware what mail services are running and what applications have been installed.
While location services are fast becoming the hot topic of 2010, from a strong appearance in 2009, it can be turned quickly against someone as well in forms of advertising and real life stalkers.