A recent article in Technology Review[i] reported an app developer in Bulgaria is working on rewriting the Android OS so that it gives requesting apps false data. Unknown to many users, some apps require access to your personal contacts and location information before they will operate, despite having no apparent reason to access this data. While companies, such as NQMobile, have recently released a mobile vault app that turns part of your phone into a password-protected, encrypted storage space, this really only protects the information ‘in the vault.’ Plamen Kosseff, writing code for ProSyst company in Sodfia, Bulgaria is developing the means that when one clicks to give an app permission to access data, it doesn’t get the real contacts, bookmarks, etc., but the defaults that came with the device or empty data.
While on the one hand, I say go for it! This is great and much needed. In the age of daily reports of identity theft, st, I’m glad to think that names, addresses, and locations will not be accessed by the next Angry Animal game. On the other hand, how have we come to a world where personal data is so readily available and shared that we have to develop systems to block it, rather than systems to share it? What happened to the concept of personal?
I don’t mind giving my name, address, location, birthday to the people I want to know it! I don’t even mind, really, if they give it to their friends or relatives. But I do mind if my friend without knowing it, gives my information to her favorite clothing store.
It may be at times convenient to automatically receive a coupon when you walk past a store in the mall or to see pop-ups ads that are specifically targeted to you, based on something you have recently searched. However, we need to remember that this kind of personalized attention comes at a price. The Internet is not a personal shopper. If the mall store knows you are standing in front of it…who else know what?
For years I’ve heard people complain about junk mail and telemarketers. Where are their complaints about computerized data grabs?
[i]Talbot, David, “Use Their App, Keep Your Data,” Technology Review. September/October 2012, (19).