Do you often receive harassing phone calls and text messages from unknown organizations? If the answer is yes, your online privacy may have been disclosed.
When we use APPs, we rarely think about privacy issues. Many users often only find out that they have taken so much personal information after receiving harassing text messages and phone calls, and then go and complain to APPs. But APP developers are very much unconvinced – “You have given us consent to collect/use that data!”
The longest privacy policies of these APPs are close to 18,000 words, and the shortest ones are 6,000 to 7,000 words, with an average word count of about 13,000. With an average reading speed of about 300 words/min, it takes more than 40 minutes to finish reading. The content of these agreements is not only long but also likely to use a variety of terminology, legal jargon to confuse you, so even if you spent 40 mins reading it, you still won’t understand anything. The boring and lengthy content for the average user really makes people’s brains hurt. Just like this, many APPs take advantage of the user’s psychology of not wanting to read and not being able to understand and get permission to use the user’s privacy.
How big is the scope of APP permissions?
In the process of using the Apps, people often encounter pop-up windows – “Do you allow this APP to use camera/get location information/send notifications”? This is when the APP tries to get permission to operate on your phone. In fact, the range of permissions available to APP developers is wider than you can imagine. Your APP not only knows where you live, but it can also access all the photos in your album, camera, calendar, fingerprints, and even read your contacts list, cell phone text messages. From the name, gender, bank card number, each online payment, shopping information, to the IP address, current location… to our daily life trajectory, the App may know more than your friends and relatives.
What information do commonly used APPs collect?
Generally speaking, the kind of information collected by APP is mainly influenced by two factors. One is the type of APP, including map navigation, instant communication, network payment, etc. The necessary information collected by different types of APP is also different. A simple social networking APP probably won’t ask permission to access the user’s bank card number and account balance. The second is the function/feature of the APP. The more features users use, the greater amount of information developers need to access. If you only use Facebook to chat, then you only need to register an account, but if you want to share photos, you need to agree to access the photo album; using Facebook to search a certain store will need location/GPS access.
Is there really a way to regulate privacy violations in 2021?
Nowadays, all industries of some scale are engaged in “big data” and “cloud computing”. As a consumer, the Internet has indeed made all aspects of clothing, food, housing, and transportation more convenient, but the shift of all industries to the Internet platform has also made user privacy violations more frequent. In July 2019, Facebook has to pay a fine of up to $5 billion over 20 years because of the privacy violations scandal. At the same time, it is reconstructing its privacy protection strategy for businesses that collect user data, and accept external regulation. TikTok also became the subject of widespread concern and paranoia in 2020 and almost got banned in the U.S.
But even if you banned all these APPs, there are always new APPs coming out. It can be said that user convenience in the Internet field is based on the sharing of personal privacy. Many people argue users are willing to trade privacy for convenience. Is this really the case? Are we really willing to sell our privacy for a little convenience? It is obviously the helpless choice made by users, but it becomes the excuse for the manipulator behind continuing to obtain purple’s personal data. To protect our privacy, besides pushing for more strict law regulation, what else can we do?