Technological “Growing Pains” Nothing to Fear
Privacy concerns with regard to wireless technology are getting a lot of bad press of late. The GPS capabilities of smartphones and tablets have evolved well beyond providing turn-by-turn navigation. They now have the ability to track your location and relay that information to third parties via various features and software on these devices. For instance, when you walk into a restaurant, your phone may log your position, and transmit it to some social network that you belong to. Or, when you snap a picture of that giant sink-hole you saw on your way to work, the location where it was taken may be included in the file information for that photo. Even when you log into Facebook or Twitter, the site wants to tell visitors where you made your post from. At first glance, this looks like “Big Brother” is getting more powerful, and more intrusive. However, ervice providers and software developers state that there goal is to provide a more comprehensive and unified user experience by using these location based services. Upon further consideration, they really are. If you tweet about how much you loved that chicken parm at the restaurant mentioned above, your readers will know exactly where to go and try it. When you send a picture of that sink-hole that made you late to work, you can tell your boss to go check it out for himself before he docks your pay. The possibilities for this technology seem to be limitless. As per this article from Mashable.com http://on.mash.to/LW1GDm, you will soon even be able to look at a satelite map and check home prices in your dream neighborhood.
Make no mistake; this privacy debate is a worthy one to be had. It is not a bad thing that consumer watchdog groups and privacy advocates are there to remind technology companies that just because they can do a thing, doesn’t necessarily mean that they necessarily should do that thing without consideration for safety issues, etc. Consumers can take part in this debate by doing what you are doing by reading this blog, staying informed. The onus is on us, the educated consumer, to be aware and take control. When you get a device, take the time to learn what it can do, and how the features work. Ask questions of your salesperson, your provider, and read up on anything that might raise a red flag for you persoanlly.
The result of these privacy debates is that wireless companies, phone manufacturers, and software developers have given consumers that control by allowing them to opt-in to any location based services, or any that identify a user personally. For Verizon Wireless customers, you can go to http://www.verizonwireless.com/myverizon and see and control exactly what personally identifiable information is collected and distributed. As for controlling GPS/location basted services on specific devices, YouTube has a wealth of resources, like this one http://bit.ly/LwJrE1 on how to disable “geo-tagging” of your photos. Finally, don’t click “OK” willy-nilly when you open applications on your device. It may only happen the first time you open it, but most applications will request your permission before activating any features that may use your location, or affect personal privacy. Read the provided “More information”, “Faq”, or “Help” files and understand what you are consenting to.
We live in exciting times. Through the combination of wireless devices on the bleeding edge of technology and a lightening-fast 4GLTE network from Verizon and Eastcom Wireless, Technology will continue to advance the way consumers live, work, and play. It is a fact of life that with innovation come the “growing pains” of controversy. However, with informed debate, and personal responsibility for the technologies we choose to implement, we can anticipate these innovations without fear, and enjoy them all the more.