Privacy on the web has always been a contentious issue, as the vast majority of users wish to remain anonymous while browsing. However, little attention has been given to the privacy of mobile phone users. Hence I was interested to read the article on mobile apps from Sarah Perez:

www.readwriteweb.com/archives/dear_iphone_users_your_apps_are_spying_on_you.php

Compared to computer use, mobile phones have a greater potential to infringe on your privacy for the following reasons:

  • Mobiles are registered to a unique user (legally this is very difficult to avoid)
  • Mobiles are rarely shared (though this is more common in Asia)
  • No such thing as “Internet cafe for mobiles”, user almost always use their own phone
  • Mobiles broadcast their position by triangulating with transmitters typically with an accuracy of 500m radius (though with GPS enabled phones this can be much more precise).

Putting the web analytics privacy debate into perspective

Since Google, Microsoft and Yahoo entered the market with their web analytics tools, privacy has certainly received a lot more air/blog time. Essentially, because of the wealth of other data these companies possess, people fear how such information can be used.

That’s a healthy fear in my view and its right to question those companies, and others, as to their approach towards end-user privacy. However, the web analytics debates around cookie use and the lesser known Shared Objects, pale compared to what could be happening on your mobile – I use the term mobile rather than iPhone here as I am sure the same issue occurs with other smartphones.

Do you fear mobile phone tracking as much as web analytics tracking?

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