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US Wants Apple, Google, and Microsoft To Get a Grip On Mobile Privacy

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the because-they've-done-a-bang-up-job-so-far dept.

Google 103

coondoggie writes "When it comes to relatively new technologies, few have been developing at the relentless pace of mobile. But with that development has come a serious threat to the security of personal information and privacy. The Federal Trade Commission has issued a report (PDF) on mobility issues and said less than one-third of Americans feel they are in control of their personal information on their mobile devices. 'The report makes recommendations for critical players in the mobile marketplace: mobile platforms (operating system providers, such as Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, Google, and Microsoft), application (app) developers, advertising networks and analytics companies, and app developer trade associations. ... The report recommends that mobile platforms should: Provide just-in-time disclosures to consumers and obtain their affirmative express consent before allowing apps to access sensitive content like geolocation; Consider developing a one-stop “dashboard” approach to allow consumers to review the types of content accessed by the apps they have downloaded; Consider offering a Do Not Track (DNT) mechanism for smartphone users.'"

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Also... (0, Offtopic)

jhoegl (638955) | about a year and a half ago | (#42774733)

We want them to pay their taxes.
AMIRITE?

Re:Also... (1, Offtopic)

bartoku (922448) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775439)

Nope, we want them to pay less taxes and not have to do business in Ireland.

Instead spend less on social programs that feed the animals and teach them to become dependent.

Re:Also... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776717)

Yes, because it's Google's core principle to help the struggling American economy. Please... Big companies don't give a damn about economy of any country - they only care about the economy of their business. If you offer them incentives to get out of tax heavens, they'll thank you dearly and start thinking of ways to import Chinese workforce into the US. Trickle-down economy means the rich and powerful pissing on everyone and everything below them. The happiest day in any CEO's life would be the day slavery is reinstated. Do you know why the minimum wage is the most common pay grade in Europe? It's not because the people are uneducated. It's because the companies can't lawfully make their wage any lower than that, and they would if they could. There's just no work here in the UK - the people are fighting for the PRIVILEGE of having a job. And that means a company can open a position for a minimum wage and not worry about people not showing up for the interview. Even better, they can open an "internship" position and get people flocking to their doorstep by simply saying "At some point in the future we might even offer you a paid job - depends on how long we can milk the current economic climate". I say, if having a job is a privilege in itself, then there is something fundamentally wrong with the system. And unfortunately you can't blame the clueless government on this one, even if it was a contributing factor.

Re:Also... (1)

bartoku (922448) | about a year and a half ago | (#42782471)

Bummer you did not take the time to log in and defend your whining.
I am so far off topics it cannot hurt to keep feeding he trolls now.

Yes, because it's Google's core principle to help the struggling American economy.

Of course not, Google's core principle is help Google. A strong American economy helps Google.
Throwing away tax money on programs that stunt the economy by teaching the lower class to be dependent does not help the economy.

Please... Big companies don't give a damn about economy of any country - they only care about the economy of their business.

The economy of their business is tied to the economy of every country they operate it, they care whether they want to or not.
Again, they help the economy best by keep as much of their money as possible instead of wasting it on taxes.

If you offer them incentives to get out of tax heavens, they'll thank you dearly and start thinking of ways to import Chinese workforce into the US.

Lower minimum wage so that Chinese workforces are not so appealing.

Trickle-down economy means the rich and powerful pissing on everyone and everything below them.

If you lie on the ground with your hands out to the government then it is no surprise a little urine trickles down on you.

The happiest day in any CEO's life would be the day slavery is reinstated. Do you know why the minimum wage is the most common pay grade in Europe? It's not because the people are uneducated. It's because the companies can't lawfully make their wage any lower than that, and they would if they could.

Supply and demand, if you are not worth more than slave wages, what good does paying you an artificially higher wage do?
Nothing, it teaches you that less effort gets you more gain, sucking the tit of the government like a good little baby.

There's just no work here in the UK - the people are fighting for the PRIVILEGE of having a job. And that means a company can open a position for a minimum wage and not worry about people not showing up for the interview. Even better, they can open an "internship" position and get people flocking to their doorstep by simply saying "At some point in the future we might even offer you a paid job - depends on how long we can milk the current economic climate".

Then leave the UK or create your own job opportunities.
Why go work for the man if you are worth more?
In the states there are more job opportunities falling in my lap daily than 100 of me could do.
I can only imagine how many I can find if I looked.
Those who cannot find work are just plain lazy, expecting hand outs.

I say, if having a job is a privilege in itself, then there is something fundamentally wrong with the system.

Having a job is a privilege, has always been aprivilege, and should always be a privilege.
Those who believe they are entitled to anything automatically are the drain on system and the problem themselves.

And unfortunately you can't blame the clueless government on this one, even if it was a contributing factor.

You are correct, a culture of entitlement is to blame; those who think they deserve something for nothing have formed the government and the system that they complain about and bleed dry.

I love working with immigrants from countries such as China, Korea, Japan, India, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, and the like.
I have heard stories of them escaping horrible conditions, even wars, living on things as awful as cat food while working through school.
They work extremely hard and never complain for a moment about their hardships.
Instead they are just abundantly grateful that they have opportunity and liberty.
As a result I see them produce, create wealth, and become very successful.
Meanwhile spoiled little Europeans and Americans whine that they are not handed more.

Re:Also... (2, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775499)

And what would the government use their tax money for? No, I'd rather they didn't pay their taxes. Did you see today we invaded Africa (for like the 20th time this year) Paying your taxes, gives money to people that drop bombs on 3rd world families. Keep that in mind when you bitch at corporations that avoid them.

Re:Also... (0)

Kernel Krumpit (1912708) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775643)

Well stated. Wish I had a mod point to give.

So we're ASKING them? (2, Informative)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year and a half ago | (#42774739)

How about regulating them?

Re:So we're ASKING them? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42774787)

Socialist!

Re:So we're ASKING them? (3, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775103)

How about simply not using their products if you disagree with their business model?

Re:So we're ASKING them? (4, Insightful)

jhoegl (638955) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775285)

I agree...
Its like, if you dont agree with all the car manufacturers, dont use them. Sure, you may not own a car and be able to get around efficiently, preventing you from getting a decent job, but... at least you made your statement.
Capitalism... it only works when you do not have limited choices.

Re:So we're ASKING them? (-1, Offtopic)

natesphotos (2818971) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775657)

Good point. Nathan http://nathanpetty.com/ [nathanpetty.com]

Re:So we're ASKING them? (3, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776009)

You know what just might work?

If the US would just stop pressuring the EU to drop or greatly water down their pending data privacy laws, this problem probably gets solved (well, actually, it probably only gets solved for the EU, because US companies would really want to special case the EU if it passes). The US could just copy what the EU is planning on doing and the problem will be solved (assuming the DOJ actually both to enforce the law after it is enacted).

Only shills defend the privacy nightmares (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776457)

Yup... It's just unbelievable to see people defend these companies. They'll often pull out the dumbest of them all: "if you don't have anything to hide, then what do you have to worry about".

The (lack of) privacy problem is being horribly abused and many people are not even aware. Stalking apps (like "Girls Around Me" mobile app) show data about all the women (or men) in a general location for several square miles. The apps link to Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Flickr, and other social sites reveal full names, photos, personal contact data, birthdates, hobbies, interests, and even family members and friends. What's worse is that most of these people have no idea this information is avaliable about them.

But the governments like getting all the information for free without search warrants and let these mega-huge multinational corporations donate to their campaigns with some under-the-table deals. So anytime I see the government say they want to protect us 1) I have doubts on any seriousness to really handle the issue and wonder what type of watered down crap they are proposing 2) I always wonder what they are really up to or trying to distract us from that is worse and 3) I think they spout out the bare-minimum of rhetoric to keep people from making a bigger issue of it all.

The people who defend these companies are either shills (which I'm sure there are a lot more of than people realize) or are so brain-washed and lack any rational thought process that they just want to argue or make-believe it's not really a problem so that "magically" it will be okay... which if you've ever studied history, turns out pretty bad.

Re:So we're ASKING them? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775579)

And if you find alternatives that work that's just fine. But, between those 3 companies it's awfully hard to buy any computers or cell phones.

It's not the using that's the problem, it's the giving them money that's a problem. I'm sure that they'd love to sell you a product that they don't have to support because you don't use it at all.

No kidding, this is a job for.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42782873)

How about simply not using their products if you disagree with their business model?

This is a job for the free market to sort out... not the govt to regulate.

Re:So we're ASKING them? (4, Insightful)

slick7 (1703596) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775343)

How about regulating them?

How about a separation of Corporate and State much like the separation of Church and State. Add severe penalties for both sides for infractions. There are way too many politicians in corporate pockets and even more corporate insiders in politics. Federal regulations written by the industries being regulated is insane.

Re:So we're ASKING them? (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776867)

Last time I looked the separation of Church and State is pretty much a failure, many religions are represented in Government with strongly religious Politian's bringing their bigotry and bias with them government and using them to shape laws and policy.

Re:So we're ASKING them? (1)

Solandri (704621) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776895)

Those being regulated by the state have a fundamental right to representation in that state. We fought a war over this a little over 200 years ago ("no taxation without representation"). That representation can be via voting or via some vehicle with which to voice their concerns to the state (i.e. lobbying). So for better or for worse, corporations must be a part of the political process. There's a tendency on slashdot to assume everything a corporation does is bad, which simply isn't true. If a corporation sees a legitimate issue with a proposed law, there must be some way for them to voice it. Otherwise you'll end up with a bunch of bad laws.

What needs to happen is to remind politicians that they are ultimately accountable to the voters. They work for the public, so all meetings with lobbyists should legally be required to be videotaped and made available to the public. Meeting with a lobbyist in private should be illegal.

Re:So we're ASKING them? (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775721)

Is there a difference?

They will write up the regulatory laws and send them to regulators. You are just bypassing some steps by asking them. This saves money and time.

Ahhh the good old days... (3, Insightful)

EETech1 (1179269) | about a year and a half ago | (#42774769)

That's one thing I really miss about my old WinMo phones. They were not a data harvesting device, just a phone, with computer functionality. Every device I've had since then just seems like it's spying on me and siphoning off my personal life for someone else's gain.

It's creepy.

Re:Ahhh the good old days... (4, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775201)

For Android, LBE Privacy Guard will let you assign whether apps have access to the network, and various other private info (e.g. location, contacts, phone ID, etc).

That makes it trivial enough to block something like Angry Birds from getting my location and communicating it to their home server. The problem is with apps which have to be online and which need access to that info to function. e.g. Navigation with Google Maps requires network access and my location. I'd like to think providing navigation is all they're doing with my location info, but I suspect they're doing a lot more with it like building movement pattern profiles.

Re:Ahhh the good old days... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42775295)

LBE Privacy Guard bootloops on all new versions of Android... was great pre ICS, but the devs apparently are only making a Chinese version now.

Sad to see the only useful privacy tool for Android not usable with 4.1, but that's life.

Re:Ahhh the good old days... (1, Troll)

EETech1 (1179269) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775407)

It seems that the newer smartphone OS's exist to provide your personal life to their creators, and push the limits of the invasion of your privacy, whereas the "last gen" smartphones were trying to provide a pocket-sized computing experience that could be safely used to access sensitive corporate networks, and push the limits of technology.

We lost something along the way...

WinMo was never the best technology, or the best OS, but it was built to be a platform you had full control over and you could conceivably trust accessing and storing your private personal and corporate data.

Look at the incredible amount of work that Google puts into Android only to give it away. It's like downloading cracked software from a warez site that also installs a keylogger. Nothing is free, you're paying with your privacy, and people are waiting in line to trade it for a shiny gadget.

I'm really hoping BB10, Firefox, Ubuntu or someone (miss you WebOS) steps up to provide a secure user focused phone based computing experience again!

Re:Ahhh the good old days... (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775819)

Look at the incredible amount of work that Google puts into Android only to give it away. It's like downloading cracked software from a warez site that also installs a keylogger.

Except that the source code for Android is available and communities can build from it ie, Cyanogen.

Cyanogen also built a version of android with in-app level permissions, which would have allowed users to explicitly set what each app could have access to, though they've drooped that ability in recent versions.

Google however is adamantly opposed to giving users that much control - see their responses to the request here: http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=3778 [google.com] . I'm guessing that's to protect developers' ad revenue.

Re:Ahhh the good old days... (1)

houghi (78078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776345)

Navigation with Google Maps requires network access and my location

Then use something else. I use Sygic [sygic.com] that does not need a network connection as it is offline.
Then only if you want it to you make a connection.

I have no experience with e.g. Navfree or any others offline GPS Navigation App.

The only moment my phone is connected to the Internet is when I am at home and even then only once a week or so.

Re:Ahhh the good old days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776487)

The only problem with using LBE Privacy Guard is you have to root your phone which

1) Requires you to root your phone
2) Voids the warranty
3) Requires technical knowledge (not common for folks that sound like "omg, i totally like totally think justin bieber is like totally like...")

But, you are right. It is an amazing app!

Re:Ahhh the good old days... (1)

Foresto (127767) | about a year and a half ago | (#42779295)

How can I verify that LBE Privacy guard isn't harvesting my data? Is the source code available somewhere?

Re:Ahhh the good old days... (1)

chihowa (366380) | about a year and a half ago | (#42785393)

I'm surprised that there still isn't a fine-grained egress firewall for Android like Firewall iP for iPhones. That's one of the few things I really miss after ditching the iPhone.

Re:Ahhh the good old days... (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775395)

Every device I've had since then just seems like it's spying on me and siphoning off my personal life for someone else's gain.

A problem that would go away overnight with an open market instead of contracts and vendor lock-in. Cell phones are specifically designed to be incompatible with one another; Imagine if you could buy something like a SIM card that worked on all the networks in the United States, not just some, and all you had to do when getting a new phone is slide your SIM into it. Someone would design a secure phone that doesn't siphon off your personal life. Several have tried, but they all fail because of monopolistic practices.

"Profit, bitch. Bend over and give it up," is the American business model now... and it's wildly popular elsewhere too. You want to stop it: Stop America's perversion of capitalistic ideals. Make it a true free market.

Re:Ahhh the good old days... (4, Informative)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775693)

Imagine if you could buy something like a SIM card that worked on all the networks in the United States, not just some, and all you had to do when getting a new phone is slide your SIM into it.

You can actually. It would work on any GSM network in the USA. Of course, you need to buy your phone from a Phone Vendor rather than a Service Provider.

That's what I did when I spent a few years in the USA. It used SIM cards from 4 different US Service Providers.

But Americans want subsidised phones so they don't do this.

Re:Ahhh the good old days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42775993)

you mean like... google? yeah, they wouldn't be asking this if that was true...

Re:Ahhh the good old days... (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year and a half ago | (#42777037)

You mean like Google what?

blackberry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42774771)

Are they now considered a "critical player" in the mobile space? Or is this the editors subtle influence at work?

What they mean is (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about a year and a half ago | (#42774777)

"we want exclusive access to your info"

NSA backdoor (0)

puddingebola (2036796) | about a year and a half ago | (#42774809)

We'd like you to put an NSA backdoor into your product, so that we can use our expanded powers under the Patriot Act to search through personal information.

Re:NSA backdoor (4, Insightful)

Required Snark (1702878) | about a year and a half ago | (#42774953)

Too late.

They don't need a backdoor for the phone itself. They already have access to all the phone data because it is stored on the server, and they have unlimited access to the service providers.

Android already does this... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42774837)

Provide just-in-time disclosures to consumers and obtain their affirmative express consent before allowing apps to access sensitive content like geolocation

This is already done by Android and works perfectly. What I'd like to see, though, is the ability to selectively deny services or mock them out and provide fake responses. If an app is asking for my contacts and I don't want to share, I should be able to return an empty address book. Same thing with location - let me set a fake one when I want to.

At the end of the day, though, service goes both ways. Just as I'm free to not want to provide my location to an app, apps should be free to refuse to work without that location. This is how the market is supposed to work - if you don't want to share information with companies, don't give it to them in the first place, but don't complain when they refuse to serve you.

Re:Android already does this...Not quite... (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42774981)

This is already done by Android and works perfectly.

Nah, it really doesn't do it in any meaningful way, and doesn't provide the level of fine grained control that is needed.

Sure, you get notification when you install an app that i uses this data, and can access that data, for this or that reason.

But you are never provided any indication when the app decides to use the data for some other reason. There is nothing in
Android that prevents this.

Example: You install an email app. Obviously it needs to access your contacts to send email to them.
It says it has to access the web, maybe to serve ads (because its a free app). You might never be told that the app might
decide to upload all your contacts to some web site. You have no way of knowing when it does this, and no way to
prevent it.

Andorid needs a finer grained control, one that says, you can't access my address book. Or you can't connect to
any website, except this list (in the example above it would be some ad server). The user should be able to turn off
some of the permissions at will. EVEN if doing so makes the app FAIL.

Right now, we get a Take-it-or-Leave-it list of permissions, most of which are poorly understood. Most people click right
through these, failing to notice that the Game they just installed wanted to access their address book. Once they
click thru that, they are never asked again. There is no way to know it happened.

Permissions should be select-able per app, even after its been installed.
There should be a easy way to review which apps can access which bits of sensitive data, and turn it on or off.

Id rather the twitter app fail than have it tweeting my 13 year old daughter's location without her or my knowledge.

Re:Android already does this...Not quite... (3, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775147)

Nah, it really doesn't do it in any meaningful way, and doesn't provide the level of fine grained control that is needed.

Stock Android doesn't, but apps like P-Droid allow you to take as much control of your own phone as you want to.

Re:Android already does this...Not quite... (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775197)

I like it. P-Droid a good start, if Android built that in by default it would be great. The UI could be a bit cleaner, but I like it.

But still ROOT is required to install, so that rules out the vast majority of potential users. You shouldn't have to void your
warranty to do the equivalent with your phone.

Re:Android already does this...Not quite... (1)

kitezh (1442937) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775207)

The BlackBerry Playbook does exactly this. When you install the app, you see what permissions it is requesting and have the option to disable some. You can also go back into the settings to review and change what permissions each app has. I also dislike the "take it or leave it" approach Android has with app permissions, and I consider it a strike against any Android device for my next phone.

Re:Android already does this...Not quite... (1)

alostpacket (1972110) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775613)

Android may need finer grained controls but I am not sure how an email app is supposed to function without connecting to the internet and reading your contacts.

I do like the idea of turning off permissions at will/runtime though. Though, even that concept is not without problems. It would increase user confusion and support requests, cause some increase to development time, potentially break a lot of apps and decrease to the value generated to app devs/publishers. Still, I think it's a good idea overall -- these problems are not really that big (IMHO).

Re:Android already does this...Not quite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776371)

Id rather the twitter app fail than have it tweeting my 13 year old daughter's location without her or my knowledge

What's your daughter's twitter address again?

Re:Android already does this...Not quite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776387)

Unfortunately, I've learned that people are fucking retards and will blame Android for being crashy. Devs do it (some bugs I've seen blamed on Google aren't bugs in Android.)

Sadly, Google made the right decision to have a all or none tactic. Most people don't care about privacy issues, half don't understand, and the other misunderstand.

Incidentally, even with fine grain permission, you wouldn't be able to tell if a program misuses the permission. You'd just be able to determine when your data leaked if you ever answer yes to any prompt.

How many Android users setup 2-step verification, (2)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775067)

and opt out of location services? Google has been pushing these options hard for quite some time now. Android users shouldn't be complaining if they don't take advantage of the privacy and security options that are pushed on them. Turn on 2-step verification, turn off GPS and location services except for when you need directions, create a good password, delete your non-essential cookies daily. These are the steps anyone should be taking to be more secure and for better privacy, regardless of whether they are using an Android phone, a laptop, etc.

Re:How many Android users setup 2-step verificatio (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775135)

I shouldn't have to forego Maps just to prevent some other app from transmitting my position to advertisers.
I shouldn't have to disable functionality I paid for, just to prevent some unwanted use of my location!

I should have a dashboard (just like the FTC suggested) that allows me to use my GPS the way I want, and not the way the app writer decided.

Re:How many Android users setup 2-step verificatio (2)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775667)

I should have a dashboard (just like the FTC suggested) that allows me to use my GPS the way I want, and not the way the app writer decided.

Good point. I've got a great privacy dashboard - it's part of Avast's security suite (which is free for Android users and which I HIGHLY recommend). I've actually always personally been in favor of using 3rd party applications for security options. I don't really like it when the product designer decides what I need in terms of security - I'd rather trust that to a specialty security company.

Re:Android already does this... (1)

CurunirAran (2811035) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775133)

You can set a fake location in developer options in the settings, It's pretty simple.

Re:Android already does this... (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776141)

How many apps require your location in order to work?

Sure, if I have an app that will find a restaurant for me, maybe it needs to know at least my general location. I'm hungry, so I ask it where the restaurants are. The app should work. It's last known location for me was in Arkansas, so it gives me a map of Arkansas with hundreds of known good restaurants. I can narrow it down to southwest Arkansas, and it will zoom in some, giving me only a couple hundred restaurants. Or, I can tell it that I'm actually in Murphrysboro, at which point it will zoom, showing me the three to six restaurants in that town, and maybe flag another dozen of the better restaurants within a half hour drive.

My point is, the app should work with or without knowing my location. If it doesn't, then the app is not so much an "application" as it is a data harvesting tool.

Rand McNally Maps could locate restaurants for me a decade ago, with absolutely zero knowledge of where I was located at the time. RM Maps didn't have any mechanism by which it could communicate with RM headquarters, to inform them of my location.

Not only could RM locate restaurants, it could locate schools, churches, (handy for people planning hostage events?) parks, shopping centers, businesses, federal buildings (Timothy McVeigh?) and much much more. (I have little idea if RM Maps would have located bomb making facilities and supplies, or weapons dealers - I never thought to try it!)

Name an app that is actually necessary to day-to-day life, that actually NEEDS TO KNOW where I am, currently. I really can't imagine one.

Now, if I'm a stalker, or a predator, and I'm trying to keep tabs on my prey, then maybe such an app is truly useful. Say that maybe I've set my sights on 3 or 12 of the most beautiful little girls in my area, and I really want to know what they are wearing (if anything) where they are, and who they are with, then it would be very useful to me that the little idiots are blathering all those details to the world.

http://blog.laptopmag.com/look-whos-stalking-10-creepiest-apps-for-phones-facebook-more [laptopmag.com]

And by "privacy"... (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year and a half ago | (#42774919)

By "privacy", they mean "from everyone except the government".

Re:And by "privacy"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42774961)

where does it say that?

or are you, in true slashdotter style, just being paranoid?

Re:And by "privacy"... (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42774995)

or are you, in true slashdotter style, just being paranoid?

Says the guy posting as Anonymous Coward ... ;-p

Re:And by "privacy"... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775019)

Paranoid? It happens in broad daylight. Or did you forget about the TSA, Patriot Act, and warrantless wiretapping? Oh, but that's all to catch the big, evil terrorists, so according to them, it's all okay.

Re:And by "privacy"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42775035)

that doesn't have anything to do with this story though. the government hasn't suggested companies open up their systems for regulation. they're just making security recommendations.

Re:And by "privacy"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42774977)

Nailed it on one lol

Prepaid Device (1)

atgaaa (1869296) | about a year and a half ago | (#42774937)

Pay cash for a no contract phone. Don't keep sensitive information on the phone. Don't transmit sensitive information. Assume that any carrier or service provider cannot protect your information.

Re:Prepaid Device (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42774983)

You left out don't carry it with you since your phone will have a built in GPS and likely wireless, both of which are very easy to use to track you. I work in web analytics and we were just talking a few days ago about ways to do this and use the information to tie together online and physical actions in a store for better understanding of customers.

Re:Prepaid Device (1)

atgaaa (1869296) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775239)

Yes, thank you. Turn off wireless networking. I think turning off "location sharing" should stop broadcasting gps data. Air plane mode should keep gps data from being broadcast, as well as powering down, but this is not ideal for a communication device.
I had hoped an "open" software would resolve some of these issues, if I can reliably disable the saving and transmitting of location data on my android phone, I would like to know how.
The bottom line for me is I am the only person that can be responsible for my personal information, if I give it to someone else, by definition, it is no longer private.

Baquack Obamailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42774951)

wants to KILL US and READ OUR MINDS.

Don't let him take away our guns.

Otherwise they may stop using them... (1)

Dr_Marvin_Monroe (550052) | about a year and a half ago | (#42774997)

This is really too rich for me. The government telling the Microsoft, Google and the mobile telecom providers to get their mobile privacy issues in order?
Pot, meet Kettle...

I think they're realizing that if consumers feel uncomfortable with carrying a GPS tracking device in their pockets, they may stop using them.
Why, consumers may just go back to pay-phones! Which would leave the feds, states and even Chief Wiggum without an unfettered way of getting location data on almost every American.

Too rich, you just can't make this stuff up.

Re:Otherwise they may stop using them... (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775061)

The seduction that these devices offer to too strong for people to give them up and not use them.

Given that, I see nothing wrong with the FTC recommending that consumers at least know when they are surrendering their location data, and have the option of turning that off in some game or social networking app, while still being able to use the Map application.

I only wish this suggestion came from the FCC as well, since the FTC, is more or less toothless.

If the FBI needs a warrant to put a GPS tracker on my car, I don't see any reason why AT&T or Google should be able to give my location away to some tin-star sheriff without a warrant, or worse yet, to JCPenny or Starbucks just because I walked by the store.

Re:Otherwise they may stop using them... (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775139)

You could try not using one of their devices then, if it bothers you so much.

Re:Otherwise they may stop using them... (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775161)

Or I could encourage the government I elected to force them to play by my rules.

Its not THEIR device, its MINE.

Re:Otherwise they may stop using them... (1)

xs650 (741277) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775259)

Or I could encourage the government I elected to force them to play by my rules. Its not THEIR device, its MINE.

Business owns the Congress critters and you are no longer the customer, you are the product.

Re:Otherwise they may stop using them... (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775375)

Not universally true. Google'sbusiness model is to give away products (search, Android etc.) for free, then get their money from advertisers. You are the product.

For Apple and Blackberry, they make their money from selling you a phone. You are the customer.

This is reflected in the amount of privacy you get with the respective mobile phone platforms.

Re:Otherwise they may stop using them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776261)

You mean like how until iOS6 you wouldn't even know about apps leaking your data, because every one had implicit permissions to use Internet and access your data?

Re:Otherwise they may stop using them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42784495)

Its not THEIR device, its MINE.

Okay... but it is THEIR government, not YOURS. The politicians that YOU elected sold it to THEM. You can only blame yourself. Next time, don't elect such corrupt politicians... or so the story goes.

ok (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42775011)

The devil is in the details of course, but these things - "Provide just-in-time disclosures to consumers and obtain their affirmative express consent before allowing apps to access sensitive content like geo-location; Consider developing a one-stop “dashboard” approach to allow consumers to review the types of content accessed by the apps they have downloaded; Consider offering a Do Not Track (DNT) mechanism for smartphone users" these are perfectly reasonable and I think are a good idea. Some of the vendors already have some of this stuff to a greater or lesser extent.

The US government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42775015)

The US government needs to get a grip on privacy in general. With the TSA, warrantless wiretapping, and placing devices that allow them to track people on people's cars, the government also needs to improve.

the government needs to improve... (1)

mschaffer (97223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775505)

The government does need to improve...how they collect and organize data on you.
I am sure the government only laments that it doesn't have the information that Google, Apple, and Microsoft have.
I wouldn't be surprised that---after all is said and done---the US ends up with a secret (from the general public) backdoor access to the information these companies have amassed in order to ensure that these companies do not "abuse" the information---in the name of homeland "security".

Goole hates end-user privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42775033)

The whole purpose of Google's existance is data mining. Fat chance they will listen to anyone or anything with regards to pivacy.

Isn't this the same monopoly of violence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42775073)

That just made rooting ones phone- that is, exercising even the slightest modicum of self determination with the software on one's "personal" phone, a felony?

The right and left hands need to have a discussion methinks.

Re:Isn't this the same monopoly of violence... (1)

oakgrove (845019) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775293)

They didn't outlaw rooting or loading custom ROMs or anything else like that. They just made it a violation to unlock a phone from one carrier to use on another.

Missing the point? (2)

bogaboga (793279) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775131)

How about "forcing" companies like Microsoft to use "standard file formats" for what has now become the defacto office suite?

Or making sure these companies, including Facebook, provide a mechanism for data portability, provisioned by a script?

Here's how it would work: I, the user, run this script through an interface, the result of which should be the "porting" of all my data from one provider to another in a 'reasonable time.'

They (Federal Trade Commission), dropped the ball long ago!

They are now trying to impress upon us that they are doing everything they can to "protect and safe guard" our privacy? I don't buy it one bit!

Re:Missing the point? (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775725)

Or making sure these companies, including Facebook, provide a mechanism for data portability, provisioned by a script?

Here's how it would work: I, the user, run this script through an interface, the result of which should be the "porting" of all my data from one provider to another in a 'reasonable time.'

Nobody is forcing you to store your data with them.

Re:Missing the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42775781)

and lets make them use a standard file system like fat and stop changing stuff

lets stop all changes and keep things the same. stop all linux file system projects only can use a common file systems from now on

Re:Missing the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787091)

Cheap Shot Troll. WTF have Office file formats (oh, wait,aren't they an ISO standard now?) got to do with mobile privacy issues?

Nothing. Thought so...

so they asked the 3-biggest privacy pirates? (1)

mschaffer (97223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775167)

So, does the US government really think that asking the 3-largest privacy pirates to do something will actually work here?
I think the only real progress that could be made is that these companies agree to a standard format for sharing your information among themselves.

You sillies, why get a smart phone? (1)

ThePackager (562279) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775241)

I didn't. a) I don't think it's worth it. b) I have enough computers. c) Someone always has one nearly everywhere I am. d) Their position can be tracked. e) Everything belongs to the hive-mind anyway. f) I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

Re:You sillies, why get a smart phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42775523)

*High five*

My "dumbphone" is 10 years old and I still love it.

Re:You sillies, why get a smart phone? (1)

nzac (1822298) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775787)

So you don't want your government to pass legislation to help mitigate your concerns?
I am aware that from your post you most likely fall into the Slashdot Liberian demographic and don't trust your government but don't ruin it for the uninteresting people (who no one cares about spying on).

Disclosure isn't nearly enough (3, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775487)

The biggest problem isn't that the applications don't disclose what they're accessing. There's also the problem that they don't disclose in detail. "May access the network", yeah, but for what? Knowing that it needs network access doesn't do me any good if I don't know what it needs it for or what it intends to do with it. Ditto "may access the SD card". Is it going to access it to store it's own data, or is it going to access it to scan other data?

And finally, even if all that's resolved, disclosure does no good when applications give you a take-it-or-leave-it approach: either give them 100% of everything they want or don't install them, even when a lot of what they want isn't required for them to run. The free version of a to-do list, for instance, would need network access to receive and display ads, but why would the paid-for ad-free version need it? Only to sync to a service like Google or Apple, and then only when the user chose to sync to a service. An IM program needs network access to run, without that it's kind of pointless. But access to my contacts? That may make it convenient, but my IM program does not need to see my phone's contact list to do it's job. At most it needs access to it's own contact list, which it would be getting from the IM servers when it logs on (otherwise things wouldn't stay in sync between clients). But still you're faced with either giving the IM program unrestricted access to something it doesn't need or not being able to use it at all. What's needed is disclosure of exactly why the program needs access and of why, if that access is required to install/run, the program cannot function without that access. Note that for that IM program, "It can't function without access to the contact list because I'm too lazy to write the code to maintain an app-specific contacts list." would be a perfectly acceptable disclosure. The reason doesn't have to be good, merely honest. Penalties for failure to follow the requirements? Well, you're making a fraudulent statement about your product. We already have penalties on the books for that.

Re:Disclosure isn't nearly enough (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776043)

Disclosure is no silver bullet, though. Most programmers don't know much about security or privacy. Even if they're willing to disclose everything their program does, what if they simply don't realize what the consequences of some things are? And what if a year later, some new privacy/security breach or bug is found, when the user had long since agreed only to the previously known issues?

There's no substitute for users having total control over their phones. We shouldn't be expecting vendors to merely permit us to have some selected forms of privacy.

If you have control over your phone, you can edit the hosts file if you want, and you can decde exactly what inputs and outputs any program on your machine gets to receive or send. And if you're not too technical, you can install some third party software written by hackers to protect you from commercial exploitation if you want, like many people already do with adblocker addons for their browsers.

But if the phone vendors and network service providers control your phone's systems "for your own good", then you'll always be at their mercy, their greed, and their incompetence.

Re:Disclosure isn't nearly enough (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776757)

You're overthinking it. There have been many cases of "whoa, why does my pop-up ducky programme need to make phone calls that cost me money?" only to be answered by "honestly, we never thought of that. We were so focused on getting our app out the door that permissions never entered into it. Mea culpa."

Re:Disclosure isn't nearly enough (1)

heathen_01 (1191043) | about a year and a half ago | (#42780055)

Quite the opposite, he's needs to put more thought into it, not less. There should be at least three options for each permission.
  1. 1. Allow
  2. 2. Deny
  3. 3. Allow access to a mock datasource/service

Resistance is futile... (1)

mschaffer (97223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775495)

Prepare to be assimilated.

The elephant in the room... (1)

heteromonomer (698504) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775515)

Facebook. An openly ruthless privacy destroyer. What Google, MS and Apple do is small potatoes compared to the facebook problem.

Information leakage (4, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775551)

I really want a ban on places like Malls being able to install stuff that watches for my phone's unique identifiers to watch me move through the mall and returning to the mall. And I want a total ban on my phone company sharing anything about my movements or calls with anyone including police without a warrant and "trusted third parties" I don't trust any third parties so their aren't any "trusted third parties"

tubVgirl (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42775565)

infinitesimaaly by BSDI who sell

Nothing will change until it's mandated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42775639)

Simple as that. As much as corporations are these beacons of good will, they won't change anything unless they have pressure put on them.

AAPL, GOOG and MSFT are the problem ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42775673)

Mobile security and any other digital security begins with Apple Inc., Google, and Grandaddy Microsoft.

They enable digital and mobile in-security traps and backdoors for themselves and their 'clients' like
the US DoJ, DHS, CIA, WH, InterPol, KGB, NATO, various Mafia and Snakehead organizaitons.

Why ? Money !

Cook need 1) cocaine, 2) homosexual prostitutes to service him, 3) booze, 4) money to payoff Mafia,
Snakeheads and Yakoza.

Without the in-security and traps and backdoors Cook would rob his divisions within Apple Inc. to fuel
his addictions.

With the in-security and traps and backdoors Cook can harvest cash globally to soothe his 'manly needs.'

With Apple Inc. stock price cratering Cook will turn to cannibalizing his divisions for cash to fuel his
addictions.

This happens day-by-day at Google and Microsoft.

'Nough Said.

 

The *U*S*A* is concerned about privacy? (1)

bradley13 (1118935) | about a year and a half ago | (#42775955)

Now that is some irony! The US government is concerned about individual privacy? This is the same government that ignores laws stating they require a warrant to access your personal medical records? The same government that eavesdrops on its citizens at will? The same government that believes it has the right to know about all of your banking transactions? That can search you at will if you - like most of the population - live anywhere within 100 miles of the border of the country.

That said, the FTC report does actually manage to state the obvious: "App developers should have privacy policies", "Obtain consent before accessing data", "Participate in self-regulatory programs", and other bloody obvious things.

Oh, and by the way, that national deficit? Well, it's just a little bit higher, having funded this useless report...

The People want something else (1)

houghi (78078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776485)

The people do not want a grip of some companies on some devices.

The people want the US to get a grip on privacy. On all companies. Concerning all means, including paper ones. Your privacy should be the number one concern.

And the privacy should NOT be able to be taken away. Not by clicking on an OK button. Not by a contract. (Only if ordered by a judge as part of an investigation or part of a punishment). Just like you can not enslave somebody by letting them sign a contract, you should not be allowed to give away your privacy.

(This will unfortunately mean no more mug shots of famous people who have been arrested.)

In Other News (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776755)

US Wants ExxonMobil to Get a Grip on CO2 Emissions

Likewise I'm sure they'll get right on that.

If people want control of personal information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776869)

Tell them to stop using Facebook.

Not worth the paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776879)

... obtain their affirmative express consent before allowing apps to access sensitive content ...

HaHaHaHa ... HaHaHaHa ... HaHaHaHa ...HaHaHaHa. Oh, you're serious: Wait, I'll laugh even harder.

There is a reason for spyware on nearly every platform: It is profitable. The US has had ten years to fix this. Instead its been grabbing hold of every data source it could. There is no reason for the corporations to stop. The government won't stop and thus won't demand anyone else stop. If anything, the US government is bullying other countries to aid their spying. The FTC has already been told that it can't enforce any policies.

... less than one-third of Americans feel they are in control of their personal information ...

Then don't leave it where other people will look. That may mean avoiding most networked applets, getting a not-so-smart phone, or simply not storing personal information on portable devices which any LEO can copy. It also means there is a demand for hardware-based encryption, a product which is mysteriously missing from the market. Doubly mysterious since VPNs and the 'cloud' are meant to be the solution to everything, except obviously, privacy.

Delusional People (1)

laing (303349) | about a year and a half ago | (#42777857)

The "less than one-third" people who feel they are in control of their personal information are living in a dream. All of the service providers collect and use all of the information that is available to them. If everyone knew what is happening behind the scenes they might demand data privacy laws similar to those in Germany.

Government wants your private data (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | about a year and a half ago | (#42779613)

The Gubbermint wants these companies to get a handle on private data? Hell I thought they already had figured out how in hell to invade our privacy. Just look at Google and Android. Always communicating with the mothership. Microsoft does the same god damn thing and Apple? If it's IOS or iTunes then they're also getting all of your personal information. Hell these folks are more invasive then the Credit card companies though with the tech they've developed, they now have a profile on what and where you buy stuff and guess what, each and everyone of these companies hands that information over to the gubbermint for a small fee. No court orders or search warrants needed.

One third of Americans think they DO have control (1)

Bruce66423 (1678196) | about a year and a half ago | (#42780185)

Now that's scary... they really think so? They have NO idea, do they?
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