How Much Do You Know About Your Mobile Privacy?
Most cell phones these days do much more than just make and receive calls. You can play games, download apps, browse the internet and even shop using your handheld device. However, the advance in mobile technology also means that some of our actions are being tracked. On a recent episode of "Fresh Air" on National Public Radio (NPR), Peter Maass, an investigative reporter with ProPublica, revealed that the company you are paying to provide cell service to your device is also collecting and storing the data you transmit.
"They are collecting where we are - not just at one particular moment in the day, but at virtually every moment of the day," Maass told Dave Davies, the host of Fresh Air. "They are also taking note of what we're buying, how we're purchasing it, how often we're purchasing it."
Mass' investigations turned up information that indicates wireless providers are not just collecting your data, they are hanging onto it, some for an indefinite period of time. According to the news source, this is completely legal because there are no laws stating otherwise. The wireless providers can share this information with marketers as well as law enforcement agents.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) acknowledged the need to reexamine existing laws and guidelines when it comes to cell phone security. Earlier this year, the FCC released a statement drawing attention to cell phone companies' ability to collect and retain private information, seeking more detail on just how much data these carriers were able to see, according to TheHill.com. Around this time, the FTC announced there were plans to update mobile privacy guidelines as well.
Since then, little has been made public about these efforts, but the FTC has placed more stringent laws on app developers, which many view as a step in the right direction. Previously, developers were allowed to collect data from consumer app use, but this right has been heavily restricted, especially when it comes to apps designed for children, The Associated Press reports.
While more is being done to protect your privacy from a legal standpoint, there are steps you can take as well. Do not store personal information on your cell phone, make sure every app you download is trustworthy and read privacy policies for your phone service, apps and websites you visit to ensure you agree with the terms they have.