Letter – We need Legislative Action to protect us from Privacy Invading Smart Phone Apps

Dear Editor,

I find it fascinating that people talk about Privacy but don’t seem to realize that we need legislative action now to deal with one of the most intrusive forms of privacy invasion, apps in smart phones.

 

When we use apps for smart phones most of them require that the app being able to access all our pictures, all our contacts, all our videos, all our messages and forward them to the app provider. Some apps like the RBC Banking App allows you to bar them from that information but many others don’t. Why would a music app, a map app or a game need to have access to any of that information? My guess is that they can sell that info to another company or use it themselves to target you for advertising, promotions etc.

 

It was revealed earlier that the Wireless Bose Headphones track and use the data from what you listen to on their ear phones. Instead of just telling us to ‘protect our privacy’ why isn’t our federal government legislate that applications can only access the information on our cell phones that is required to use their products. For instance, leaving the equivalent cookie of paying for a license for using their app is reasonable, knowing who I have on as contacts on my phone, has nothing to do with their ability to be paid for their service. I can understand a mapping app needs to know where I am to properly guide me, but do they need access to my pictures to do that?

 

Yet people blindly accept the terms and conditions of service without thinking. We need to be protected from these predators. We pay for our phones through our service contracts or buying the phones outright. Most people do not buy phones to aid marketing companies to know what pictures we take and who our friends are. Yet, we have no protection against that other than to refuse to download the application.

 

Think for a second. You buy a camera and the vendor insists that they have access to all the pictures you take. Would you accept that? If you have a computer game, would you buy it if the game’s producer said, ‘Oh, by the way, I will need to have access to all your contacts & pictures in your computer whenever I want, OK.’ Most of us would refuse, but in the apps we predominately say yes.

 

I feel that consumers need protection and need it now.

 

About W.A. (Bill) Chapman