The end of online privacy

Posted: March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

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Article link: here 

PART 1: SMARTPHONES

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Did you know that applications on your smartphone keeps track of your personal information? Contacts, phone numbers, mobile web browsing history, etc.

An example would be a social application for the iPhone called “Path”. This application looks into your smartphones contacts, and uploads all of the information to their server(s). Most people who downloaded the application were not aware of this activity. Furthermore, a recent study conducted by a user interface designer found that 13 of the top 15 developers for iOS (iphone/ipad) applications confessed that they have access to a huge database of private user information. Although they claim the information is strictly confidential, it make’s one think how safe their information is in their hands.

Think before you click (or touch)!

PART 2: EVERYTHING ELSE. 

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Twitter claims they have a database full of their users private information as well. It keeps a record of all address book data (including phone numbers and email addresses).

Target, one of the largest (online) retailers in the United States, claim that they can use statistics (via a record of purchased items) to identify pregnant shoppers. The tool Target uses to track what their customers purchase is called the “25-item prediction system”.

Google makes 97% of its revenue from ads. Therefore, it is necessary for them to track what their users search in order to provide the most effective ads for each individual browser. For the end user, it simply means that google tracks every move that one makes within it’s “system”. Because of this, Google has received harsh criticism for it’s policy regarding user privacy.

PART 3: WHAT NOW?

In order to protect users’ private information, the government (ironically) is beginning to take action:

“The culmination was the announcement last week by the Obama administration that it would push for all browsers to have a ”Do Not Track” button as part of a ”consumer privacy bill of rights”, while the Californian attorney general said that apps would have to include privacy policies to tell users what data they would access” (Arthur).

One thing is for sure, there is no such thing as “true privacy” in the cyber world. Somewhere, someone has access to the information you keep online. Whether it’s a smartphone or a laptop, your personal information may be in jeopardy. Make sure you read the fine print when you download an application on your smartphone. Double check the website’s privacy policy when signing up for it. Etc.

 

Stay safe out there.

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Comments
  1. Paul says:

    Liked the presentation today!

    Might do some research into Bing’s privacy policies vs Google’s if I have time 🙂

  2. lockmantuj says:

    Good job of covering the bases of this issue with this blog post for your presentation the other day. I’m kind of curious about this Online Bill of Rights. I would have appreciated a little bit of summary or analysis on what you think it means and how effective it might be in addition to the hyperlink you provided.

    Also, it’s always a good idea to give an attribution for the images you use. I know that when grabbing stuff from Google Images, it’s easy to forget to do this.

    Luckily theres a tool called TinEye that helps track down where images appear on the web (http://tineye.com). Not surprisingly, each of the images you’ve used appear in several places. But at a minimum, you should have mentioned that the main image for your post (the dude at working at the computer and hiding his screen from the big eyeball outside) was the cover image for a book: http://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/0737735678

    • lei_187 says:

      I appreciate the feedback!

      I’ll make sure to add proper credit for the photos used for this and future posts. I’ll be making a follow up post as well for the online bill of rights.

  3. […] Friday the 9th I listened to Lei talk about his article he analyzed.  The Article The End of Online Privacy talks about how big websites and companies are getting an […]

  4. Chris says:

    I found this a pretty decent application that does a good job at shredding your online history.

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