10 Jan 2013

The Spy in Your Pocket: How Much Does Your Smartphone Know about You?

You probably love your smartphone like the millions of other users who adore theirs and show their love with blinged out cases, expensive accessories, and faithful upgrades.

Did it ever occur to you, however, that your Smartphone may have more personal insights into your life than even your friends have?  Always within arms reach, your smartphone may or may not be a benign hub for a plethora of stored information about you, but some people are wondering just who else is connected to that phone, to that virtual warehouse where your data goes.

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Who Is Spying?

When it comes to smartphone surveillance, location-based apps are the movers and shakers in the know-it-all industry.  These apps certainly appear harmless and are incredibly useful, but they do reduce your privacy to a bit of a joke.

Simply by using some location-based apps that simply answer your search for something as general as mid-priced restaurants in a specific city, you can actually provide this app with more than just your interest in a fleeting thirty-dollar meal; some location-based apps have the ability to track your phone ID, the telephone numbers you dial from your phone, your contacts, and the websites you visit.

Why Are My Smartphone Apps Spying on Me?

While these apps probably don’t care how many times you call or don’t call your significant other, they do hold a lot of information that is dear to marketing groups.  Consequently, location-based apps and marketers are a match made over conference tables and in high-rises overlooking the smartphone throngs below.

Their partnerships result in new marketing initiatives to create location-specific advertisements based on what they learn about people like you—your age, your gender, the places you visit, etc…Of course, you don’t earn a penny and you may not even realize all the information that you provide simply by using these apps on your smartphone.

I Don’t Want to Throw My Smartphone at the Wall

Chances are you may not care what these apps track as many users seem unbothered by sharing their personal information with a virtual tracker.  Yet, keep in mind that it is against the law for a checkout clerk at a library to tell another living soul what book you checked out.  Historically, privacy has been a protected commodity in the U.S. and other nations that cherish the stuff.

New technology is making inroads into our habits through the devices we have come to know and love.  Yet, you can minimize these tracking behaviors by refraining from using location-based apps in spite of their functional usefulness.  You certainly don’t have to destroy your phone—just use it more carefully.

Other Threats to Privacy via Smartphones

Location-based apps are well-known for their intrusion into our privacy.  Yet, by using them, we give them the “green light” to go about their tracking activities.  Other critics of smartphone privacy worry about the increasing likelihood of mobile malware and more malicious software that can be used to hone into our devices and all the information they hold about us.

 In an era where we complete our bank transactions over our mobile devices, who knows about how much we’re willing to spend on a cheeseburger is slightly less relevant than who knows how much money is sitting in our accounts.


Few people are willing to give up their smartphones—their convenience has revolutionized how we live and even how we do business.  Yet, it does seem appropriate to require new methods to safeguard our privacy as we use them.

We may also want to spend some time researching apps before we use them and take more control over the information tracking apps can glean from us.  You can still love your phone; just keep in mind that you’re not its only friend.


About the Guest Author:

Laura knew she needed a smartphone to be able to work on the go.  However, she made sure that she looked into which of the Tesco phones was the safest before deciding which one to purchase.