Smartphone privacy
Nerd with glasses is shocked after reading a sms

Innovation can create new problems, and often even new industries. Two and half millennia after the invention of the wheel, we have traffic jams–made possible by the auto industry and Big Oil. That’s two industries right there. Fast food and high fructose corn syrup caused worldwide obesity, and gave rise to factory farming as well as the diet industry. (That’s two more!)

More recently, privacy has been a recurring issue when it comes to innovation, but it was a problem pre-Internet, as well.

Credit cards opened the door to overspending and account takeover as well as a host of privacy concerns around who gets to know your spending and bill-paying habits. Then there’s EZPass and FasTrak. Who doesn’t love automated toll roads? (Hint: People who don’t like being tracked.) The list is potentially endless, but no innovation has given rise to as many industries in the last fifty years than the Internet.

(Yep, the Internet is eligible to join the AARP this year!)

User privacy is an essential part of keeping your data and identity safe online; it’s something we talk about regularly on our podcast “What the Hack with Adam Levin.”

It’s no easy task to identify the 10 biggest Internet-related privacy failures masquerading as the next best thing since the World Wide Web, but here it goes.

#3 Smartphones

When the first truly functional smartphones hit the market, it was exciting. Landlines were already headed for extinction, and it was really difficult to text on a flip phone. Having access to a pocket-sized computer with an easy interface that could take dictation as well as photographs and video all the while surfing the web and finding you great driving directions…who wouldn’t want that?

Smartphones prove a universal truth about awesome digital innovation: When it’s really good, there’s always a catch.

The features that made smartphones a must-have item collected user information–and they did it more effectively than Google and Facebook. Location tracking services and apps are the bread and butter of the digital marketing space. Loyalty store apps and banking apps reveal granular details about the things you buy. That handy camera has a default setting that snags hyper specific information every time you snap a picture, and your wireless provider keeps records detailing every phone call and text coming and going to and from your device.

Here’s the deal: Smartphones are the digital equivalent of a zoologist’s tracking tag. On our person each and every day allowing service providers and device manufacturers alike to compile enormous amounts of data on nearly every aspect of our lives. It really makes you wonder: Was it that hard to send a text on a flip phone?

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