Anyone who has a dog knows what the biggest fear is. A firecracker at the wrong time, a cat crossing the street, too much thunder and it can happen that the dog runs away, with all that goes with it. From this point of view, technology has brought a lot of help: in recent years, i collars equipped with GPS and connected to the smartphone via app, which allow you to know at any time where our companions are.
These are devices that usually cost around 50 euros, equipped with geolocation, combined with a sim (and therefore usually require a separate subscription) and that to save the battery – which lasts between seven and 10 days – switch to mode bluetooth when you are nearby. Although the main function is to find a lost dog, there are also other reasons to consult the app on your smartphone. For example, if you are one of those lucky people who live in places where dogs can stay free, you might be curious to know – by looking at the map on your smartphone – how far your dog has ventured independently and which laps he does when not. and with you.
These devices may also have fitness-related features – how long has the dog run? Did you walk enough outdoors? There may also be the option to set goals for physical activity and receive reminders if they are not met. In general, however, a GPS collar is only needed in an emergency that (hopefully!) May never occur: loss. With this exception, where does a normal apartment dog spend all his time? That’s right: by your side, your partner or children.
And so, even if you have committed to removing continuous location from Google Maps, Facebook and WhatsApp and have set your smartphone so that privacy is as protected as possible, now it is the house dog that has turned into a tracker that continuously transmits your position. Not only that, since these devices – to avoid unnecessary alarmism – sometimes offer the possibility of connecting to all the smartphones of the family, your dog can transmit the position by specifying if it is with you, with your partner or with one of your children. In short, it becomes a very rich source of detailed information (and which, indirectly, allows all members of the family to know the position of whoever is with the dog).
Which pet food store do you take it to? Which dog areas do you frequent? How often do you take him for a walk: are you sure you don’t need a dog sitter? How long do you play it: isn’t it worth buying an automatic garden ball launcher? These are just a few examples. More generally, knowing what you do when you are in the company of the dog can be very useful to profile yourself more and more accurately. All data that, once collected, can be resold, as they actually do many of the companies offering smart dog items.
As the focus on privacy grows and we are learning to be increasingly attentive to the ways our data can be collected and used, digital surveillance has targeted another target: man’s best friend.