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Archive for July, 2010

Privacy versus Mobility

July 30, 2010 4 comments

This appears to be a worrying trend whereby mobile devices are playing an increasing role in the erosion of personal privacy. Why does privacy not translate very well for mobile technology?

Starting from easily accessible and recoverable SMS text messages, to mobile apps that secretly send your data to 3rd parties, it would seem that most people are not really aware of, or concerned with, what goes on under the hood when it comes to mobile technology.

This is a topic that’s well explored in a book I recently reviewed for the BCS, entitled My Digital Footprint, which makes a good argument for why multi-capable mobile devices will soon become the primary source of information from and about the user, as opposed to the information hungry device they currently are. However, the problem with this scenario is that unless users are aware / in control of their own Digital Footprints, along with the capability to choose who they wish to manage it on their behalf (perhaps in exchange for some appropriate benefit); they will most certainly be ripped off by unscrupulous third parties.

Interestingly, this would appear to be a reversal of the usual “consumers are stealing our digital content” mantra that we have become accustomed to hearing from the content industry. Clearly, if personal data, identity and privacy really belong to the individual, as in “My Digital Footprint”, then such parties that solicit and use surreptitiously gathered mobile data are themselves guilty of stealing “My digital footprint”. No?

Perhaps the UK’s Digital Economy Act, and other such rules, should also make provision for individuals that wish to pursue mobile operators / advertisers / and other co-beneficiaries of such an illicit activity, for invasion of privacy and theft of their Digital Footprint. Or am I just barking up the wrong tree?

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