Last weekend has seen a plethora of claims that the most popular smartphone apps have free ranging access to much of the phone user’s data, including but not limited to text messages. The frightening thing is that this access is possible even when the phone is not in use.
Now everyone wants to hang app developers and store operators. Big named services are being used to take advantage of phone users – the likes of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr, among others. All of your personal information on your phone is vulnerable to many of these apps.
It has been reported that these vulnerabilities plague both iPhone and Android phones. However, it is unclear whether these breeches in privacy appear due to active access of data by applications developers have designed for this purpose or the security designs are simply so grossly flawed.
Even when you are calling someone, some apps can intercept this call. The shocker, though, is that the camera can bee access and your geolocation can be discovered without you ever knowing it is happening. You would think Facebook and Twitter would have learned from the disaster that followed Path. In that case, contact list data made its way onto their computers, setting off a fight over privacy rights.
Apple announced it was creating a fix, though this could be a PR ploy to lighten the backlash. They have not announced a release date, but it would set the access to information based on user consent. Regardless, the terms and conditions are always to long for the Internet age readers. Most users click to accept just to get the long document out of their face.
When blame is being assigned, the developers cannot take the brunt of it. In a $6-billion industry, applications are the responsibility of store owners as well. In this case, the largest are Apple and Google. The sharpest complaints raised focus on these monsters refusing to secure the devices against the very data harvesting that has built their businesses. Is it any wonder?
Apple does keep a tight ship with regards to their terms and conditions. This is in sharp contrast with Google, who struggles daily to eject malware infested apps from their store. Toss in the fact that the ground is quaking regarding consumer privacy rights, while this information has arisen and you have a concoction for disaster.
Google will not release any public announcement regarding such claims. Facebook jumped on it immediately, claiming no one reads other peoples messages. They even went as far as to say Times was mistaken when they wrote about this problem.
They did point the finger at Android, though, claiming the Android version of Facebook app demanded SMS read/write capabilities. Facebook let the cat out of the bag when they revealed that any app can connect to the SMS data, chiefly for testing reasons. However, Facebook declined to explain why Times would admit they had read text messages. As usual with lying corporations, the answers are like hot jello through the fingers.