Other issues in this category (23)
Run, Android, run!
We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go. Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person. A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They'll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalysed thought.
Nowadays, mobile phones usually always go where their owners go. And since it’s always with you, why not take advantage of it? Navigation software helps us drive and find our way in strange neighbourhoods; taxi and pizza apps allow us to get what we want with one tap on the screen; and some health care institutions even use software to shorten their response times and, thus, save more lives.
However, some developers can't resist the temptation to capitalise on the stash of personal information at their disposal and use it to earn extra profits.
- Shopping applications provide detailed information about customers' preferences and finances.
- Developers can tell by the current model of mobile device in use whether it's time for them to offer the user a state-of-the-art gadget to replace the “obsolete” one.
- Dating applications will tell them everything about your personal life.
- We can continue adding to this list indefinitely, and you can, too, based on your own user experience with YOUR device.
Of course, you can ignore all this and rely on the goodwill and integrity of those who receive the personal information your smart phone transmits, but…
The NCC (Norwegian Consumer Council) became very interested in the company FitnessKeeper which develops an application with the same name. An investigation revealed that, in addition to helping runners track their progress, the app also helps advertisers because it tracks a device’s location even when it is inactive, and sends the acquired information to the U.S. And since FitnessKeeper is an American company that doesn't have subsidiaries in Europe, the Norwegian Council can't do much to protect the personal information of its citizens who use the app.
Those seeking to acquire your location data don’t even need a GPS or GLONASS receiver. They can determine where you are by using the phone's radio module. However, some people use special services on social networking sites to make their location known to the whole world.
These people are very valuable to advertisers. Banks are interested in acquiring this sort of information too—to assess your creditworthiness, they can examine information about your shopping activities including how often you shop, the quality of the goods you purchase (cheap or expensive brands), and other purchase data.
And if you become a suspect in a corruption investigation, law enforcement agencies can use your information too.
- When you install applications, read the end-user license agreement carefully! Developers often gather information about you without having to resort to illegal means. They just add a clause that no one will ever read into the agreement.
- Use an anti-virus and a firewall on your device, if you can. Don't wait for someone else to reveal to you that your rights have been violated by a third party—keep track of your own valuables!
- Pay attention to the permissions an application requests when it’s being installed. If another torch application requires access to your contact information, location, and the Internet, something’s definitely not right.