Privacy issues in Smartphones and Applications

A Smartphone is similar to a mobile phone that allows you to do more than just a phone call or send text messages. The smart phones with the modern technology functions like a small computer and at the same time incorporate the usage of several equipments. Smartphones are being used by almost everyone regardless of the age difference. The life of humans is being made easy with its existence and at the same time it has become a best friend to many.

The operating systems such as IOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows phone are the leaders in the smart phone technology. Thousand of games and applications are available for these phones and several are being invented every day. Even though the expensive smartphones were used in 1992, the release of Apple’s smartphones in 2007 made a massive impact on the usage and marketing of smartphones. Now, Apple has released its new 5S which includes the fingerprint reader based on the Biometric technology.

The users of the smartphones are concerned more with the brand of the device, size of screen, camera resolution, device weight and several technological aspects rather than in the mobile privacy and security. The benefits of these concerns leads to face several issues related to security. A large amount of personal data is being shared in smartphones as well as its applications. UDHR (2012) Article 12 states, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”. This information can be hacked by an intruder and may use it to harm an individual. Even though the technology requires a lot of personal information such as credit card details for applications which is required to protect their phones from malwares or viruses, is it right for the developers to require that information? Doesn’t it violate the ethical principle of Right to Privacy? This also violates the BCS (2011) under Public Interest “have due regard for public health, privacy, security and wellbeing of others and the environment“. The developers have to be totally aware of how to use and what information is required for them.

Based on the statistics of the survey by AF-Sudio.pl and Super Monitoring (2013), 91% of the people use mobile phones and at the same time 56% are users of smartphones; among these users 50% use them for the use of internet. According to this survey, the usage of the social networks and online purchases have made a huge growth and evolved. Some surveys show that most of the people does not have password protection on their smartphones and never lock after the use.

Leaving this issue aside, providing the additional facilities to the users through modern technology, service providers of the smart phones also collect the personal data of the users with or without their knowledge. These providers provide the services to fulfill the users but give a big impact on the UK Human Rights Act (1998) “Protection of the right and freedom of others” as the intension of collection of this data is never mentioned or disclosed.

They are:

  • Incoming, outgoing call with numbers and duration also text messages.
  • E-mail access, internet usage.

Another major issue is that the smartphone is used for organizing of subversive, radical activities which is a huge threat. The personal privacy data are being stolen by criminals and advertisers with or without their knowledge. The personal information is scrutinized by the government in many occasions as well. Even though the government uses this information to protect the general public for threats, is it right for them to involve in one’s personal life? Doesn’t it violate the ethical Principle of Integrity and Totality?

One can be monitored with the usage of smartphones and his/her personal information can be obtained. The main information is obtained that you share in the social networks which are used and benefitted from. These include photos and videos taken by your mobile, caller details, contacts, text messages, e-mails, and most importantly your income and expenses, your location, age, gender, interest and even the biometric information as well. These are not only a threat to just a personal but to the community as well as for the country. Consequence theory explains these critical situations. According to G, Johnson (2002). The” behavior or the conduct of a person towards an activity can be argued right or wrong based on his perception”. The action can be either right or wrong and thus causes an ethical dilemma and turns out to affect the general public.

Many techniques are being used for stealing this information. These are not mostly on mobile applications viruses but also stolen via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as well. Sometimes, it is stolen at the place where a mobile phone requires a repair. According to UK Data Protection Act (1998) “Personal data shall be possessed fairly and lawfully”. The smartphone Company requires adding more security measures in order to stop intruders tampering this information.

If we take the mobile applications, the data collected from a user with or without their knowledge for business and other intentions are being sold to third parties for money. In most cases, the free applications operate with the user’s permission, but steal data without their permission. According to the survey by Wall Street Journal (2010), based on 101 smartphone applications revealed that 56% of the applications had stolen unique ID, 47% the locations and 5% information such as the personal, contact list, etc without the knowledge of the users or notice.

There are several smartphone applications and their usage are very essential. Now, the computer age has ended and the mobile age has begun. Therefore, the applications and games for the smartphones are being developed massively. The users should read the privacy policy and understand / clarify it before installing in order to be on the preventive side.

The growth of the social media mainly involves in the evolution of the smartphones. This has now brought the world within the hands. The mobile applications such as face book, twitter, Google+, what’s up, Vibe etc plays a major role and rules the people from youngsters to elders. This enables the relatives, friends, those who are needed; etc can be contacted, shared information and shared idea with at anytime, anyplace and always in touch with them.

The youth who does not have a social network account in the current world could be counted on the finger tips. This hinders the privacy security of an individual and at the same time the main aspect for the social and cultural issues of the communities. These are available in smartphones in order to handle easily and share the personal contacts, photos and videos and the location from where it is being used as well. The users are using them without being aware or without care that their daily life is being monitored.

The major role is played by them on the crimes happening around the world. For example, most of the photos taken using smartphone incorporate the information such as GPS location and time. This leads to several murders, robberies, abuses which have happened and are happening. The videos taken by mobile phones are the base for the several issues. The fact that anyone can take photos and videos of anyone’s daily activities and share them and the porn films in the internet leads to recent changes and anti social activities. This violates the Computer Misuse Act (1990) “Unauthorized access to computer material” and also violates the BCS Code of conduct under the section Duty to Relevant Authority it states “shall NOT disclose or authorize to be disclosed, or use for personal gain or to benefit a third party, confidential information except with the permission of your Relevant Authority, or as required by Legislation

The smartphone is used in the health care to find remedies to the illnesses. The diseases of the patients could be recorded and send them to consult remotely for the cures. The privacy of the patient is hindered even when smartphone is a helping tool in the medical field. As an example, a recent story in the Canberra Times documentary medical report of a 70 years old man who had fork stuck in his penis was shared more than 21,000 times on face book. The smartphone has impact on each and every level of the lives.

The technology and the new inventions which provide development and changes and providing helpful services to the community, but at the same time have to face some issues mentioned above as well. We should protect the privacy rights of us and of the society and others also being human. We should be aware that the technology is for the development only not for with any adverse intentions. Smartphones are intended for sharing of information over them to fulfill your needs, serves your intentions fully. In the meantime, it is being used by some for cruel intentions and other purposes which leads the users being the victims. Therefore, we should ensure our privacy and protect that of others as well.

Thevathasan Mayuran
Thevathasan Mayuran
I'm the founder of Myooou Cyber Solutions tech based business in Sri Lanka offering latest high quality Website Designing, Website Application Development, Web Promotion (SEO), Ecommerce Solutions, Software Development Services, Mobile Applications, Graphic Design and Networking, Hardware Solutions. We have a team of Professional & Expert Web Designers, Web application Developers and SEO experts in Sri Lanka, who provides you appropriate web services based on latest technology and latest trend.

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