By Joshua Ostrer
With more and more students using smartphones and the many applications installed on them, the question becomes: how safe is information on your phone? The answer: not very safe at all. Every smartphone is given a unique serial number, essentially irremovable by the owner; for the Apple iPhone, that serial number is called the Unique Device Identifier (UDID).
“The great thing about mobile is you can’t clear a UDID like you can a cookie,” said Meghan O’Holleran of Traffic Marketplace, an internet ad network. “We watch what apps you download, how frequently you use them, how much time you spend on them, how deep into the app you go.” The question then becomes: where is your personal information going? That depends on the application. For example, Pandora, the popular music streaming application, collects your age, gender, location and phone identification and then sells it to the followin companies: Apple/Quattro, Google/Doubleclick, Medialets, Facebook,Google/AdSense, Google/Analytics,Weeklyplus and Yahoo.
Many applications, from Angry Birds to the Bible App sell personal information to ad corporations and other companies. Even companies like Google have recently come under fire for bypassing user privacy settings, allowing for complete monitoring of any user’s browser history through tricking Safari’s Web-Browsing software. AVG, the antivirus company, also recently came under fire when it released an “anti-virus” application that was unable to actually do full virus scans and instead collected user’s phone ID, their network operator, email address and GPS location, which was then sent to AVG’s servers.
With the smartphone’s increasing role in our daily lives, it’s important to be aware of the ease by which it can abuse your privacy.