Smartphone users understanding of privacy laws may not be accurate, according to a recent survey by law researchers from the University of California at Berkeley. The survey considered data from 1,200 users telephoned on either a landline or a mobile phone and sought to gain insight on perceptions about privacy as it relates to data stored on mobile devices. Researchers found that over 80 percent of users surveyed believed that their mobile phone was as private at their personal computer. Further, 70 percent of users would not want their cell phone provider to use location-based data to target ads to them, nor would they wish for social networking apps to use their contact lists.
As discussed by Technology Review, most smartphone users surveyed were seemingly unaware that, during an arrest, courts have allowed the search of a cellphone just as if it were any other possession. Regarding the use of location-based data for targeted advertisement, many apps already collect location data, sometimes with the users unknowing permission, hastily and inadvertently given when accepting the conditions of a free app.
But for midsize businesses, it is the collection of users contact lists that is perhaps most troubling. Businesses have privacy policies to protect customer information, but rightly or wrongly, it is a common enough practice in industry for employees to store customer phone numbers and other sensitive information on business and sometimes even personal cellphones. A recent article in Todays iPhone says that a recent Bitdefender study of 65,000 apps showed that 18.6% access cellphone users contact list information, and only 57.5% of those apps go on to encrypt the captured data. Although the release of iOS 6 will warn users when an app wants to collect data, it is still a troubling statistic.