A new start-up has launched a Kickstarter campaign to introduce a new phone case to consumers that are concerned with tracking and privacy issues. Their product named OFF Pocket is designed to block all signals coming to and from your smartphone by means of a case that interferes with the signals. It is reported to block Wi-Fi, Cellular and GPS signals. People might say why don’t you just shutdown the device but most devices still transmit even when completely off so this product would even stop that. The technology is like an electric field blocker similar to that of a Faraday Cage. This is a good product for consumers worried about their privacy but it isn’t quite practical in my opinion. The case offers little protection as it is just a metal fabric cloth like sack that you place your phone in. Also what happens when you have to take your phone out to use it? You will become ‘visible’ again and you’ll have to wait for your phone to load all of the data from when it was not reachable.
The Royal Bank of Canada has recently released an update to their mobile banking app that required access to users’ GPS location, phone memory, and call logs/contacts. The update has made many users upset due to the idea that RBC could sell the information received from the app. This would be an unnecessary amount of information for the app, but RBC has stated it is “in order to provide you with the best mobile banking experience possible,”. This goes to show how users care about their privacy, and asking for permissions to personal information can lose the trust of those users.
The market of targeted advertising based on information gathered by companies that track mobile phone user activity is expanding. A new way of tracking user information and connecting user activity on multiple devices owned by one specific user has grabbed the attention of companies such as Ford Motor, American Express, Fidelity, Expedia, Quiznos and Groupon. These companies will certainly not be the last to take advantage of the new user tacking methods being developed by advertising services. Recently, these services have developed a way to track your activity on your mobile phone, laptop, tablet, and desktop to come up with a large data set based specifically on one user – you. Based on your searches, use of apps, etc., they can send “hypertargeted ads” to your devices that are exactly what you are looking for. For example, if you’ve been searching for hotels in Hawaii for a family vacation, these services will know that. From there, they will send advertisements for things such as airlines offering flights for a certain price to Hawaii, rental car company advertisements, etc. What does this mean for mobile phone users? More advertisements and less privacy when it comes to using the internet and applications on your devices. Privacy is a huge deal for a lot of users and large companies are paying tons of money for advertising services to impede even more on user privacy as time goes by.
… [Mobile] applications like Angry Birds collect personal information, usually the user’s location and sex and the unique identification number of a smartphone. As the Internet goes mobile, privacy issues surrounding phone apps have moved to the front lines of the debate over what information can be collected, when and by whom.