Cellular technology has evolved significantly over the past few decades. Less than 20 years ago, most cell phones weighed at least 8 pounds. Modern cellphones are more powerful than some computers and are the size of a pack of cards. Some smart phones have multi-core processors that can be used to run advanced applications.
As cell phones increase in computing power, many companies are creating social applications to share media, reviews, information and physical location. While most applications are designed to be beneficial to the end-user, they can blur the line between reality and the digital world.
For example, there are many location-sharing sharing applications like FourSquare that share an individual’s GPS coordinates with a select group of friends. While this can be useful when organizing a group or making plans, it’s important to understand how it can impact one’s privacy. Sharing one’s location with an excessively large group of people can lead to theft, stalking and other unenjoyable events.
In addition, some cell phones allow businesses to track individuals without their knowledge. A recent news story showed how several malls in New York use cell phone’s wireless connection to track individuals in a mall.
All cell phones have a unique MAC address. This is a numerical code that is tied to a certain piece of hardware. Under normal conditions, most smart phones will search for any available Internet access point. During this search, a phone will broadcast this MAC address.
Retailers use special devices to record these MAC codes in a mall environment. As an individual travels around a mall, he or she will have her location recorded hundreds of time. It’s possible for the mall to determine how much time an individual spends in different department stores. Based on this information, The smart phone mall will change their marketing strategies.
In addition, many smart phones that use Android share information with Google in a variety of ways. While Google is well-known for its search engine and Android phones, it earns most of its income through advertising. In order to create excellent advertisements, Google must research information about its users. Every time an individual sends an email through Gmail, Google will search that email for specified keywords. Based on these keywords, an individual will receive targeted advertisements.
There are several services offered by Google that will record personal information anonymously. For example, any time an individual uses Google Navigation his or her location information will be used by Google for improving its algorithms.
While many people may not be worried about their personal privacy, it’s essential to understand how smart phones can impact an individual’s daily life. As cell phone applications and services become tightly integrated into everyday life, the live between the digital world and reality will grow thin.
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