Peeping at someone else’s phone: ‘It’s hard to suppress curiosity’

Peeping at someone else's phone: 'It's hard to suppress curiosity'

The picture of the embezzled politicians was published this morning in De Volkskrant. “I didn’t realize anything at the time,” Caroline van der Plas tells Editie NL.

The app about earring

According to her, Rutte and Marinessen could not see any private information. “I remember submitting an app in our group app before the discussion. Colleagues noticed I only had one earring, and thought I lost the other. But I turned it off because of the microphone: otherwise my earring would click on this and you’d hear it on TV.”

So she is not worried. “They couldn’t see the information in the ‘job elsewhere’ category. It was curiosity, I guess.”

It’s hard to suppress

It’s hard to suppress this curiosity, says cognitive psychology professor Stefan van der Stijl. “You’re curious about what’s going on next to you and it’s hard to suppress that feeling. What’s offered to you there is special. You’re introduced to a world that might be interesting to you. So if the person sitting next to you on the train is on Instagram ‘Would you like to take a look?’

However, it does not necessarily mean that Rutte and Marinissen were really looking for information. “It could also just be a reaction. The phone lights up, something happens. It gets your attention.”

Avoid snoopers

Technology journalist Flores Port of Bright says there are ways to block the view of snoopers. “You can turn on your phone’s night mode; white text on a black background is hard to read from a distance. Or reduce the brightness.”

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There are also so-called “privacy screens” that prevent others from viewing. “These are a kind of screen protectors that ensure that the viewing angle becomes narrower. There are companies that put such a screen on employees’ phones as standard, for example to prevent trade secrets from being leaked on the train.”

Port thinks it might be an option for politicians and MPs. “Of course we saw cabinet members who were pretty careless with their secrets.”

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