In light of Black Friday being upon us, many people will be using apps to find the best sales at different stores. Be careful of what apps you are using and what you are agreeing to when you check a box in your App Store. There are many phone apps out there that invade privacy.
The new digital world scares me. After talking to a few friends about iPhone and a droid apps, I got really paranoid and decided to delete half of my apps. Why? I really did not use most of them, and I learned some really scary things when researching what kind of information I’m putting out there just by downloading some of these apps that might “make my life easier.”
Flash light apps: access the user’s contact book, location, and calendar. Why? To track usage. I deleted my flash light app right away after doing some research. Sounds like a good idea. Have a flashlight on your phone in case you need it. Nah, not really. I installed, but never used it. No love lost by hitting delete and confirming the delete.
Some of the more controversial aspects of these apps include but are defiantly not limited to: No encryption, a lot of these apps send data in what is called clear free text (no HTML,) and they may record audio and use your camera to take photos and video at any time. “App companies are also requiring you to allow them to approximate your location, send SMS messages from your phone that cost you money, read your contacts, read your phone status and identity, get “full network access” to your communications (in other words listen to your phone calls), modify or delete the contents of your USB storage, and disable your screen lock (the 4 digit code that password-protects your phone).” Why would you allow so many people access to your personal life?
ShopKick- I deleted this app from my phone after my blogging partner told me it utilizes your voice recorder on your phone. After digging around a little and reading comments on news sites about it, someone named “Aaron” from ShopKick stated that the voice recording is used to verify the person is at that location. Ok, why? Why is that necessary, when using location services, they know where you are? I seemed a bit unnecessary to me, so it was deleted off my device, never to be added again. Honestly, I never used it even once anyway.
Ibotta- I entered Rite Aid’s parking lot, the app suddenly encouraged me to save money by purchasing a certain item. I deleted the app right away. I can save money using coupons and cash at a store without an app stalking me in the parking lot.
The Wall Street Journalran an article (click the link) about popular iPhone and android apps that require you give permissions for accessing you personal information
Twitter uploads your contact list for 18 months without explicitly telling you so. Read about that here. I’ll keep twitter though. So useful for my business.
Here’s a recent article from Forbes Magazine highlighting the danger of using wellness apps, their invasion of privacy, and how the free apps are usually the biggest offenders. In March 2012 there was a Mobil app privacy class action lawsuit against several companies. Rad about it at the Martindale blog here. Here is an update from August 2013 regarding Apple’s role in this class action suit.
Here is a Best Practice for Mobil Act Developers PDF file. It just gives a little information about privacy best practices for people who write apps.
A very nosy app, and probably the biggest offender, is one I kept on my phone. Facebook. I know. But it is my only means of keeping in touch with my family, seeing photos, et cetera. I turn off my location services on my photos, but that is probably not enough. It is my guilty pleasure app. But a way for the world to learn everything about you. Six degrees of separation no more.
Be careful what you download. There truly are apps out there that invade privacy!