In the article “Tech Giants Agree to Deal on Privacy Policies for Apps” by Geoffrey A. Fowler published in February 23,2013 says that “California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris reached an agreement with six of the largest companies in the mobile-device market that could change how app makers handle personal data and the way millions of people download apps.” Attorney General Harris makes a very critical point when she states that “‘We have populations without knowledge of mobile
Most people do not even bother to take the time to read the privacy policies that accompany any website or application that they download. If a person would do so they would probably find themselves a little overwhelmed as these policies generally use wording that is very vague and not easily understood unless they happen to be a lawyer themselves. The article written by Doug Gross of CNN titled ” Attorneys general have ‘strong concerns’ about Google privacy rules” published on 2012-02-22 sums up the growing concern in regarding to tech giants mining our daily lives via technology that they themselves have help create. “‘ On a fundamental level, the policy appears to invade consumer privacy by automatically sharing personal information consumers input into one Google product with all Google products'” was part of a letter that was sent out to the CEO of Google, Larry Page. This letter was in response to a new policy produced by Google that took affect a last year in March. The new policy would basically use one blanket policy for all or most of Google apps. The new policy change had reached the attention of Congress as well. Both, Democrats and Republicans rallied and wrote a letter of their own addressing their concerns to Google. Google’s response to the letters was simply that their intentions were to make the existing policies easier to understand to the consumer. Part of the response was this, “By folding more than 60 product-specific privacy policies into our main Google one, we’re explaining our privacy commitments to users of those products in 85% fewer words.” This is just one companies policy, but what about other companies who are similar to Google?
“Facebook is Using You” by Lori Andrews published by the New York Times tells of how Facebook makes money off of selling it’s users personal information to marketing companies that target the users likes, hobbies, and interest. Facebook mines it’s uses activities then sells that information to outside companies who then track what the user does. Since Facebook is free to join this is exactly how
they make their money. They sell ad spaces to companies who wish to target the users in turn Facebook promotes the user and their activities and places the ads on the users screen that are similar to their likes and hobbies. If a user had just “liked” a quote that contained the words “sun” or ” I need a vacation” the user would notice that there are ads for vacation destination packages or sunscreen on the page.
It’s not just the internet companies that do this. The smart-phone has been one of the biggest users of data mining. All the apps that come along with the smart-phone share personal information as well. Some share very few details however, some share as much information as the can about the owner of the phone. Names, location, age, sex, user profiles, and the phones unique id are all shared. Playing a free version of Angry Birds will pop up advertisements during the game. Angry Birds is one of the most popular games out there, but it is also one of the biggest companies that share personal data. According to “your Apps are watching You” by Scott Thurm and Yukari Iwantani Kane, published in December 17,2010, “An examination of 101 popular smart-phone apps-games and other software applications for Iphone and Android phones- showed that 56 transmitted the phone’s unique ID to other companies without users’ awareness or consent. Forty-seven apps transmitted the phones location in some way. Five sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders.” During their investigation into this practice they interviewed Michael Becker from the Mobile Marketing Association he says that “‘In the world of mobile, there is no anonymity. A cell phone is always with us. It’s always on.'” Meghan O’Halleran of Traffic Marketplace says “‘ The great thing about mobile is you can’t clear a UDID like you can a cookie. That’s how we track everything.'” “‘ We watch what apps you download, how frequently you use them, how much time you spend on them, how deep into the app you go,'” (O’Holleran).
So, is all of this such a bad idea? It truly depends on a how an individual feels in regards to sharing their personal data image. In some ways it could been seen as a “Big Brother is watching you” tool. However, the majority of people who use the internet and their smart-phones are not going to care if their digital image is being used or who sees it. Regardless of this, law makers are still trying to send the message to these companies….change your policies, and warn users of the consequences of their actions.