Who is Tracking Your Smartphone– Every Move, Every Stroke, Nowhere To Hide: Its Big Brother in the 21st Century…

Big brother is watching you: Right now there’s a good chance that someone or something is tracking your smartphone, tracking your location, keeping tabs on your every move, every search, every call… And that’s just the beginning;  According to Becca Caddy; we all know that smartphones are smart and they can do many things, and that’s because they are packed full of great technology and a whole lot of sensors… Sensors that can watches your smartphones every move…

According to Becca Caddy; it’s important to know that the sensors inside your smartphone are just tools in the hardware, but it’s how and when smartphone manufacturers or app developers tap into these sensors that is important… Knowing what they can do, and when they can do it, with/without your permission is critical for your safety and piece of mind… There’s irony here, i.e.; most people want smartphones to be smaller, smarter, and more capable of doing cool stuff… but then there are unintended consequences– some good, others not so good… 

In the article Tracking Your Smartphone by Steve Bell writes: There are so many organizations keen on getting your personal data that it might be more pertinent to ask who isn’t tracking your smartphone? It’s a long list, e.g.; third-party data agents, app creators, retailers, social networks, organizations, governments, hackers, snoopers… And ironically most people don’t even know it’s happening…

These predators are out there and they are watching you like ‘big brother’. In George Orwell’s infamous dystopian 1984 novel there is line that says; Nothing is your own except for a few cubic centimeters inside your skull… This could aptly sum-up the way we live in today’s smartphone world; while smartphones are powerful tools and very useful for all sorts of things, they are also capable of tracking your every move and scoop-up reams of personal information…

Your smart phone can automatically track movements if you have geo-location switched on. With smartphones now constantly hooked-up to Internet via mobile signal, smartphone owners can be tracked to within feet of their actual location… It might seem intrusive but this sort of thing goes on all the time, probably without you even being aware of it… A study by Wall Street Journal revealed that many smartphone apps are constantly monitoring users and sending all types of data back to apps, and potentially in the hands of some bad characters… One aim of this ‘furtive’ behavior is to track movements, behavior, and sell this ‘personal’ information to the highest bidder…

According to Ben Edelman; mobile apps are of special concern because smartphones tend to get highly personal data about the user, e.g.; where you travel, what you search on the Internet, who you call, who calls you, what games you play… the flow of personal information is endless. Individually, all  this data might seem unimportant but adding-up millions of users, over months and years– it’s portrait of humanity… Never before is so much data being collected about so many people.

In the article Consumers In-store Tracking Your Smartphone by Erin Griffith writes: A whole new category of technology has sprung-up to serve ‘omnichannel’ retailers, that combine online analytics with in-store sales. They do it by tracking consumers smartphones while they are in-store, and then aggravating that data with their online analytics… According to OpinionLab survey; 77% of consumers find in-store tracking unacceptable, 81% said they don’t trust retailers to keep data private and secure…

Prior to smartphones, it wasn’t technologically possible to find out much about consumers in-store behavior until they actually bought items… And even then they had to buy with credit card, offer email address, or loyalty account to be identified. But now with technology, such as; geofencing, WiFi, Bluetooth… and smartphones; businesses are able to track to customers by identifying smartphone signals… The goal is to engage customers as they enter a store (or relatively near a store), and ‘push’ product/service notifications using their smartphones… 

According to Jonathan Levitt; consumer sentiment suggests that retailers need to tread lightly when tracking shopper’s smartphones. There is a ton of suspicion around in-store tracking, but if it’s going to happen consumers must be informed and agree to opt-in with explicit consent… Retailers must also acknowledge the possibility of data breaches, and up-the-game on privacy and security. The good news is that there is an opportunity for brands that are transparent about collecting data with an opt-in approach works for the benefit of both business and consumers… In fact, business should be able to show consumers that these promotion and engagement programs can translate into real value…

According to Mike Feibus; the big question is whether we all should be feeding into surveillance paranoia… and do we have reason to worry about the personal data that’s being collected by growing number of sensors in smartphones... The general consensus by many experts is that there’s little reason to be too concerned, right now… but that assumes you don’t mind people/organizations tracking your every movement trying to sell you stuff, or sell your information to others, based on where you are located…

Current smartphone technology is just the tip of the iceberg… as smartphones get smarter and use more sensors, it’s going to be more challenging to separate data that you don’t mind being stored/shared, from data that you really don’t want getting into wrong hands, e.g.; health data… As more people use smartphones with biometric sensors to monitor health related functions, such as; heartbeat, pulse… there is high risk that this data might be sold/share to bad characters…

So be very vigilant and protect your smartphone, which means: Know how your smartphone is configured. Be careful with all permissions you grant. Disable location tracking when not in use. Turn-off all apps that track in the background. Free apps are not free, assume they will use your information. Close/log-off all apps when not in use. Check the data collection policy on all apps before download…