The Thin Line Between Privacy and Innovation

The mobile application revolutionized the way many of us interact with the world, and provided we’re willing to share information about ourselves, nearly every aspect of our lives can be made more convenient.  To get the most out of our mobile apps, however, we’re required to share data about ourselves that leaves many of us uneasy.  For those of us who’ve been alive longer than the Internet itself, many of us are uneasy about using our real names, and hesitate for a few seconds every time our phone asks for our current location.

Of course, privacy concerns on the Internet are nothing new, but they seem to be taking more of a front seat lately.  Once upon a time naïve users had to do something imprudent – click on a suspicious link or type in bank information – before unscrupulous hackers could make off with all our data.  Now that we’re putting much of it out there freely, many are decrying the end of privacy as we know it.  Gizmodo believes, for example, that Google’s recent privacy policy change signals the end of its “don’t be evil” motto, and the U.S. Senate seems pretty keen to keep an eye on the Internet giants in order to ensure that the rest of us aren’t giving too much of ourselves away.

The most recent controversy surrounds the mobile app “Girls Around Me,” which accumulates and consolidates publicly available information from sources like Facebook and FourSquareJohn Brownlee of Cult of Mac recently demonstrated the Girls Around Me’s potential:

[quote]So now I know everything to know about Zoe. I know where she is. I know what she looks like. I know her full name, her parents’ names, her brother’s name. I know what she likes to drink. I know where she went to school. I know what she likes and dislikes. All I need to do now is go down to the [club nearby where she is right now], ask her if she remembers me from Stoneham High, ask her how her brother Mike is doing, buy her a frosty margarita, and start waxing eloquently about that beautiful summer I spent in Roma.[/quote]

Completely creepy, and perfectly legal.  FourSquare has since stopped sharing data with the app, but it’s still a cautionary tale about what we should and shouldn’t be sharing in the digital world.

Share

Written by

Mark M. Stetler is CEO of AppMuse and its related businesses: iPhoneAppQuotes.com, iPadApplicationQuotes.com, AndroidAppDevelopmentQuotes.com, and BlackberryAppDevelopmentQuotes.com. AppMuse is the Internet's leading provider of free app development quotes from experienced, pre-screened app developers for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry smart phones.

No Comments Yet.

Leave a Reply

Message