Recently leaked documents reveal that an upsetting amount of your personal information can be harvested by way of mobile apps and their advertising partners. This means that pretty much anything you’ve shared with any app, especially those who use third party advertising models, is easily accessible.
Depending on the context of the apps you use, enough information can be compiled about you to create a pretty accurate profile of who you are, where you go, and what you do. This information includes:
- Your age
- Sexual orientation
- Political affiliations
These, and other types of personal data, are all easily harvested in a coup, to which the NSA internally refers as the “Golden Nugget!” It’s understood that if it’s on your phone, they can access it. Text messages, contacts, images, where you ate lunch…
President Obama has acknowledged that “high tech surveillance” do in fact infringe upon civil liberties, but the overarching justification for this invasion of privacy was the need to recognize “what’s really at stake[:] how we remain true to who we are in a world that is remaking itself at dizzying speed.”
Well, okay, us peaceful citizens of the world get the need to stop terrorists that are having an easier time than ever with global communication. The caveat, though, was that he was actually just speaking in the context of telephone metadata — not necessarily mobile applications. So, while the NSA may have a place in an abstract sense, Obama’s whole “protect America from terrorism” NSA backing seems to conflict rather harshly with reality once you take into account the fact that — despite his claims as to otherwise — the NSA clearly abuses its power; according to the Guardian, the NSA has cumulatively spent more than $1 billion in its efforts to mine data from civilian mobile devices. Clearly, this is of high priority.
Let’s face it: the NSA collects far more data it needs to protect us from terrorist threats.
Therefore, even if we believe that the NSA holds a real, desirable, and important place in our ever-changing world, we have to start recognizing that — due to its free reign to collect our personal data without any oversight — the NSA could theoretically accuse anyone of being a terrorist in order to perpetrate otherwise outrageously unconstitutional activity.
Basically, though more meaningful government reform and NSA crackdowns may (hopefully) be on the horizon, it’s all the more imperative now that we start to seriously evaluate what we keep on our phones, and how we use them. Unfortunately, the reality is that the more information and access you provide to various apps and services, the more you make your personal life available to spy agencies.
It’s not conspiracy theory anymore — just the truth.