Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nice to meet you. We've heard good things!

Did you know your smartphone might be spying on you?

A buddy of mine (thanks Dave) sent me this article by Mike Elgan in Computerworld.  The article explains how various applications for the Droid and iPhone can activate your phone's microphone and camera to gather information about you.  Where you are, what you're doing, what you're watching on TV or listening to on the radio, and onward.

Does that freak you out?

The Shopkick app Elgan describes is particularly sneaky.  Stores like Best Buy and Target have a device that makes a sound that is inaudible to humans.  But the microphone on your Droid can hear it.  So when you walk into Best Buy, your phone detects the sound and transmits a message through the app.  Then the app can identify you and your location.

Elgan writes, "Many apps actually snoop around on your phone, gathering up personal information, such as gender, age and ZIP code, and zapping it back to the company over your phone's data connection."  Since every mobile phone has a Unique Device Identification number, companies can link the data they gather to specific users.

So yeah, your phone might be spying on you.

Now don't get me started on why you should keep a piece of tape over the camera on your laptop.

(Please note:  tech guru Leo Laporte first broke this story on his podcast, found here.  And the picture is from Best Buy.  Yes, irony.)

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