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Smartphones and privacy concerns

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by halifax, Jul 24, 2010.

  1. halifax

    halifax New Member
    Thread Starter

    Jul 24, 2010
    Hi all,

    I recently got an HTC incredible as my first mobile phone (I know, I know... I decided to join the 20th/21st century) So far I love it. I am slowly dipping my toe into various features and apps and find myself turning to my 'droid before I turn to my notebook or PC for various online tasks.

    Inspired by my new phone, I am doing research for school on privacy and smartphones, focusing more on location-aware uses of smartphones.

    I am such a new user, I haven't really formed a solid opinion on this yet, and I haven't really found uses for some of these applications (foursquare, yelp, location enabled twitter/facebook). But given my excitement for the phone, I can see myself getting into these things eventually.

    My thinking is that as these devices become more and more common, people will be more open to revealing their location and activity in that location(context) with less concern over how that information is used, but I still need to get more concrete evidence to support that ;). Many of the studies I've reviewed show that people will claim they are very concerned about privacy when using location-based mobile applications, but then many of them won't limit or control what information they provide when using these applications. So the attitude doesn't always seem to match the behavior.

    What do you think?

    I also created an anonymous survey to get responses I could quantify in my final report. It's short and takes less than a minute. Mister Poll: Privacy and smartphones


  2. vincentp

    vincentp Well-Known Member

    Nov 11, 2009
    Mortgage Underwriter
    Rochester, NY
    Definitely agree with your main point towards the end there. I and a lot of people I know claim to be concerned with privacy, but I really don't bother to lock down or turn off certain things on my phone because I've never had a problem before. I suppose if something happened it would kick my butt into action and change my mind, but so far I haven't really bothered. I'll be happy to go take the survey for ya.
  3. K-Rizzle

    K-Rizzle Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2009
    Dog Walker
    North Carolina
    I have used Yelp to check in, just because I think it's neat. BUT I never check in at my work or home or anything like that. I don't need people knowing where I work, some of my FB friends are from online mommy forums that I'm on, and I don't know them IRL. So yeah, I kind of keep what I post about my location limited. I've only checked in once actually, at Friendly's. lol.
  4. halifax

    halifax New Member
    Thread Starter

    Jul 24, 2010
    Thanks for the responses, seems like a great community of droid users here :)

    I've been so busy with full-time job and night classes that I haven't been in many situations to really use any of the more "location-aware" features....

    However, one day at work a co-worker and I wanted to see how far our daily walk-break actually is, so I downloaded Endomondo and measured it out. It was my first "wow, this little thing could be useful" experience with my Incredible.(turned out to be less than a mile:()

    Now, in order to use Endomondo I had to enable the "LOCATION ON" setting in my phone. With some trepidation, I enabled it for measuring the walk, then immediately turned it off after the walk. Am I paranoid? Maybe. But here's the thing. I was quite excited by such a useful application of my device, that I could see in time turning it on for one app, then another, and another.....then just leaving it on all the time. That is just me thinking about how my brain works....and was also the motivation behind my prediction people possibly getting more relaxed about privacy and using these sorts of applications over time as more and more people use them. But that remains to be seen ( and I still have many doubts about that prediction).
  5. VegasOnAcid

    VegasOnAcid Well-Known Member

    May 29, 2010
    I went ahead and did the poll. I use location based programs for things that don't publish my location, just use it to get better search results for things in my area. I am not to concerned with people knowing where I am if it does get published, but I rather them not.

    Just a thought, dunno if it would apply to your poll or study, but I think women might be more hesitant to use these services then men. Not due to how the companies are using this information but how random crazy people are using the information I.E stalking...
  6. Hrethgir

    Hrethgir Well-Known Member

    Feb 16, 2010
    Intel fab tech
    Salem, OR
    I use Foursquare, and I log in pretty much everywhere I go except for home. It's crazy, though, if you use Foursquare and search for "home" nearby, you'll probably be amazed how many people DO log in there. Eventually I'm going to start driving by those places and checking in, see if I can take their Mayorship away from them, LOL! I like to sometimes do tracks of trips, but when I do that, I start from a major intersection, not where I live. On my Twitter app, I use location, but not exact location, so it just says what city I'm in, not my exact coordinates. And if I'm ever somewhere whare I don't want people to know where I am, I just don't check in at all. Location-based community apps can be fun, but you have to use them smartly if you are concerened about privacy.
  7. scubafan

    scubafan Member

    Oct 7, 2011
    Hi, I just joined so I could ask everyone here about this very issue! I just posted this:I've been seriously thinking about switching my Treo Pro for the new Motorola Pro+ when it comes out for GSM. While not a major upgrade in performance, the 1Ghz CPU should be snappier than the 512mHz I have now. The Gorilla Glass display is VERY welcome!

    The main reason I want to switch is so that I can get access to more of the USEFUL apps like Gasbuddy or Flightwatch. The concern is, with Google being behind Android I worry that my personal data will be totally compromised! For example, when I tried to update the Google maps on my phone NOW, it first deleted the working copy I had and wouldn't allow the new one to install unless I agreed to a total lack of privacy! It wanted to stay on, connect my private cell number with ANY form of marketing and allow all my travels to be used for marketing as well. I DEEPLY resented that, so now I'm without the use of an app that was preinstalled WITHOUT me having to accept a "lack-of-privacy" policy.

    The terms say: I consent to the collection, use, sharing and transfer of my data including voice and location data. In addition I have to agree to the terms here: Mobile Privacy Policy

    Which say:However, if you use an Android-powered device, Google will associate your device id with your Google Account in order to provide services, such as sync functionality for your Google email and contacts.

    we record your phone number. We record your phone number when you send it to us; ask us to remember it; or make a call or send a text message or SMS to or from Google. If you ask us to remember your phone number, we will associate your phone number with your Google Account, or, if you do not have a Google Account, with some other similar account ID. We often generate this account ID based on your device and hardware IDs, so if you change your device or hardware, you will have to re-associate this new device or hardware with your account before we can authenticate you.

    So, what are my options? I do NOT use Gmail, or facebook and didn't like that it also says it will keep track of all my contacts. That means whether THEY like it or not, Google now knows everything about them too...

    Has anyone here explored these concerns? I understand a lot of people don't give it any thought. But I work hard to minimize the level my life gets intruded into. I'm not obsessed with it, but don't think I should just 'drop trou" for anyone that wants to sell stuff??

  8. UnplugMe

    UnplugMe Well-Known Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    Northeast U.S.
    I was fairly upset when I read the permissions for Google Translate, and backed out of it. There are so many people who don't bother to read the permissions. Why does Google want to read my private messages? They are way too nosey.

  9. Slug

    Slug Check six!

    Aug 1, 2009
    Mobile phone retail
    Inverness, UK
    They don't, but if you want to translate an SMS then that message has to be transmitted to Google's server(s) for processing. Thus you have to give your permission.

    It's also worth a reminder that many permissions are dependant i.e. the app itself may not need the permission, but part of its functionality may involve other apps. Take a look at the permissions requested by Maps, for example. It requests permission to make calls, not because it does so by itself, but because it allows you to select a phone number in an address and Maps then asks the default dialer to place the call. This is a small but important distinction that I feel could be much better explained to users.
  10. RiverOfIce


    Mar 30, 2010
    In exile
    There is two forms of privacy. One that directly linked to you and the other that is directly linked to your "user" account. If you don't want you known, simply make up a gmail account, only log and use that account. Set all the privacy settings to off. But that has nothing to do with privacy, just miss direction.

    Any cellphone you sign a contract with, is tracking you. Every minute of every hour of every day. People can find your cellphone and your location with in minutes. They do not have to be the police or law enforcement. All they have to do is understand how the system works and ask the system to find you. Heck I can tell where you live in about 30 minutes just by your car tires. Yes, I can track you down and find you anywhere by your car tires. Not too hard. I can probably track you by the box of cereal you bought this morning, assuming you bought it from a major grocery store.

    But that comes back to one problem, there is no such things as privacy. Your picture was taken at least 30 times every morning, with out you even knowing it.

    Which brings us back to the original point. It is not your privacy you should work on, but the disinformation of your information. Tracking only works if the information is 100% accurate. If they don't know your real name, or you use fake names like "riverofice". You post fake information on social pages like facebook and myspace. If you randomly turn off your gps. If you repeatedly change cellphones. If you make them beleive you are not you, by the information they are provided, then you have done something better then protecting your privacy. You have made all the information they can gather useless.

    So remember, privacy is impossible. Because no matter how many buttons you turn off and option you check, it will still be tracking you. You need to provide it with disinformation, to make the information they are storing incomplete. The number one way to do this, is a group shared email account. Have the 1 email account associated with a group of people. The group of people will create a information overload that will cause the whole system to report false information. The trackers will not be able to tell the difference between any one person in the group.

    Oh and the tire thing, it is about 30 dollars worth of electrics from any good electrics store, any tire sold in the united states since 2004, and ubuntu of course.
    UnplugMe likes this.
  11. scubafan

    scubafan Member

    Oct 7, 2011
    Is there any way to use an Android phone WITHOUT giving all my personal information away to Google?? Even with my current Palm Treo Pro I've run into issues! When I used the google maps a while back, it said I needed an update. To do so it deleted my original copy and the new one will NOT work unless I allow it to give google my location at ALL times!

    In addition, I do NOT use Gmail and don't want to be forced to give google my real name to add to the database they now build across SO many platforms. More articles out say they mine all your texts and voice calls for more "personalization" data. Many apps seem to give GPS data out even when you do NOT give permission as well.

    All I want is to be able to use an OS more modern than the Winmobile 6.1 so I can use the gasbuddy app! Am I doomed to be stuck unless I want to give my life away to google???

    I planned to use a misdirection Gmail account originally, but from what I can tell, even if I want to only use FREE apps I'd need to give Google my real name, cell number and credit card info! Am I wrong about needing all that data just to use free apps?
  12. danaj

    danaj Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2010
    Tucson, Az
    You can use a dummy account with a dummy name with no credit card info for free apps. I am not sure about the phone number though. If you are that concerned about privacy, perhaps a smartphone is not the best fit for you. Get a dumb phone, and use a computer for internet.
  13. rui-no-onna

    rui-no-onna Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2011
    So don't give Google your real name. Google's not going to check if your real name is John Doe or something. Location services in Android is an opt in thing so just have it permanently disabled. If you link a Google account to your phone, Google is going to know your cellphone number, though. If you don't want them to know your primary cellphone number, go prepaid. Plenty of prepaid services now allow smartphone use. A credit card isn't required to download free apps. If you want to buy paid apps, then get a prepaid Amex/MC/Visa card from your local drugstore or something. If you can find alternate sources of Android apks for the apps you want, then no need to even sign up with Google.

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