Discussions centering around mobile privacy tend to tick me off. Not because they are invalid–they’re not. But because, in my opinion, they make a mobile mountain out of a mobile mole hill. Anytime you’ve given out personal information in the last 50 years, it’s been kept and used by companies to create services and products more applicable to your needs. I guess that’s why the mobile privacy uproar gets me going. The data mining and analysis used to throw highly targeted ads your way are no different than methods used in the days before everyone had a cellphone–and before you didn’t have the option to opt in or out.
The Big Complaint
The latest mobile privacy issue to hit the wire comes courtesy of a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission by privacy advocates US Public Interest Research Group and the Center for Digital Democracy. The complaint alleges that the mobile advertising industry engages in deceptive practices pertaining to data collection and has requested an investigation into the privacy implications of mobile marketing.
A wide swath of companies were named in the complaint including Google, Yahoo, Nokia, AT&T and Verizon, along with quite a few smaller marketing companies.
Google’s Android Pure Privacy Evil?
The big focus in the complaint is Google’s Android operating system. With its ability to collect cookies–a little piece of code inserted in web pages you visit to track your web use over time–combined with its ability to track your location, the advocacy groups argue that “Google will have the ability to assemble profiles of users that include their physical paths over time.”
Better Consumer Education Needed?
So what! Owners of Android-based cellphones have the ability to opt-out of allowing these tracking features. Pretty well every service that collects personal information allows you to opt-out these days in order to cover their asses from this kind of crap. If you don’t like it, opt-out!
I’m all for consumer education, and it’s possible that companies don’t educate users well enough in these areas. Mainly because more data ends up meaning more money in the end run. At the same time, more data means more effective products and services for consumers.
Google Can Have My Data Because I Don’t Frequent Strip Joints
If the collection of my personal data means I’ll be served a relevant advertisement that helps me find something I’m looking for, or a coupon that will help me save some cash by shopping at a business near my location, I’ll gladly hand it over.
If I was up to no good, I’d probably not want my data collected–just think of all the funny images Google Earth and Street View collects. But hey, if you’re being an idiot and get busted for something immoral because of so-called privacy invasion, it serves you right.
Don’t worry Google, you can have my data.
(Image Credit: spanaut)