Leading Internet Firms Admit to Spying on Personal Texts Sent through Smartphones
The smartphone has become our most valued friend these days. Nobody can really move around without one. You get your instant emails, messages, and updates from social networking sites with a smartphone. It’s a like a mini tablet computer right in your hands. But have you ever considered the implications this has on your privacy.
You may be a smartphone fan but smartphones are just as safe as a public computer. That’s not really very safe. Using a laptop with dongle subscribed to any of the mobile broad deals would be safer. It’s not really the user’s fault either.
Access to Calls and Text Messages
Have you noticed how every smartphone application that you install has a list of Term & Conditions and some actually state that they need access to your incoming calls and messages. They might need the access to incoming calls to determine when your smartphone is receiving a call so the application is paused and not stopped, but what is the deal with wanting access to the messages? There is no need to pause an application when you receive a message.
If you look deeper, it is actually mentioned in the Term & Conditions that the developer has the right to go through the data that you are uploading or downloading from their application. Leading firms like Facebook, Flickr and Yahoo have even admitted to it. Of course, there isn’t much to admit if it’s actually mentioned in their Terms & Conditions clause, but it still reaffirms it.
Facebook admits that their Android app asks for the right to read your text messages from your smartphone. However, they claim that they have not taken any advantage of this so called ‘right’ as yet. Yahoo and Flickr are alleged of the same thing as well.
Other application can track other personal details about the users like their location, email contacts and the calls that they are making. Some applications even ask for the right to access your camera and it is suspected that they use it to take remote images from your smartphone.
There are applications like Google Maps and Places that use your location in order to guide you to your destination. That is what they are made for and that is what you are using them for as well. Facebook also has a ‘Check In’ feature that uses your location to let you add location to statuses and photos. But other applications like Angry Birds and Shazam have little or no use of this.
Web Browsing History
Applications also collect users browsing history to assess behavioral patterns. This data is then sold on to market research companies that have great use of such information for targeted advertising campaigns and strategies. This just exposes you to more spam ads and messages. Application developers have admitted that it is much lucrative for them to provide the application for free to the users and make money from putting in advertisements on them. Charging for application does not even come close to making that much revenue.
Lack of Regulation
The application market is highly unregulated, especially for Android. You will see thousands of applications on the Android market that are faulty, barely work and are substandard. Yet they remain on the Android market showing that Google is least concerned about regulating it.
Experts working on Creative and Social Technology say that there are many applications that are simply developed for the purpose of capturing data so that it can be sold to advertising agencies and marketing research companies.
It might be of consolation that Facebook states that if it ever does use the rights of viewing the user’s text messages then it will do so with the proper legal guidance and informing the users beforehand. Google states that its Android has always made sure that the users are informed of the data that an application will be accessing. That is why it is also clearly stated at the Android Application Market.
Stay informed and read the Terms & Conditions. They are usually so long and technical that you don’t even understand them at times, in that case do try to skim through them. Always make sure that you read what features of your smartphone an application is trying to access. Don’t share sensitive information through your smartphone. Use your laptop instead and with excellent mobile broadband deals you can internet access almost anywhere.