Friday, January 7, 2011

Your Apps are watching you. A recent investigation finds that iPhone and Android apps are breaching the privacy of smartphone users. In these days that there are apps showing up for just about any company product or service or idea you can think of, there is a market to know what your interests are. Few devices know more personal; details about people than the smartphones in their pockets, phone numbers, current location, often the owners real name and even unique ID numbers that can never be changed or turned off.
These phones don’t keep secrets. They are sharing the personal data widely and regularly. A Wall Street Journal investigation has found through a test of 101 popular smartphone apps games and other software apps for iPhone and Android phones; showed that 53 of the devices transmitted the phones unique ID to other companies without the users’ awareness or consent to other companies. 43 transmitted the devices location in some way and 5 sent age, gender and other personal data to outsiders. We don’t really know where our information from our devices are going to.
In the world of mobile devices there is no anonymity. A cellphone is always with us and is always turned on. We are almost powerless to limit the tracking. Many apps don’t even offer a basic form of consumer protection or written privacy policies. What is sad is that the way of the world is increasing the use of apps for out convenience. For example, Serious satellite radio now encourages you to download its app and use your phone as a radio receiver. Now you don’t have to buy another device to listen to radio, just download the apps and your radio is everywhere you are. Great idea and very convenient but are my habits and interests going somewhere to be collected in some data base? Yes!
A growing industry is assembling this data into profiles of cellphone users, Mobclix, the ad exchange, matches more than 25 ad networks with some 15,000 apps seeking advertisers. The Palo Alto, Calif., company collects phone IDs, encodes them (to obscure the number), and assigns them to interest categories based on what apps people download and how much time they spend using an app. Hey Mobclis! Put an app on my toilet. No I’ll tell you directly how much time I spend in the bathroom!!

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