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When The Smartest Phone Is A Dumb Phone

A recession is when your friend loses a job. A depression is when you lose yours.
Written by Tom Steinert-Threlkeld, Contributor

A recession is when your friend loses a job. A depression is when you lose yours. Similarly, privacy is not a concern, until you lose yours in an overt way.

So it is with smart phones. There are all kinds of privacy violations you can imagine and get worked up about. Businesses need to worry about whether they are making it too easy for employees to peer into company databases – and facilitate the transfer of carefully guarded information to other phones and computers. Employees can get worried that their company-issued phones are being used to track their whereabouts, during or after official business hours. And consumers can get worried that marketers may know so much about their purchasing habits and their whereabouts that they’ll never get away from advertising pitches targeted at their every move and mood.

But there are practical measures to counter every one of these issues. Businesses can limit access to their servers to approved devices, user by user. Employees can elect not to accept company-issued phones. And consumers will find ways to block or ignore the marketing pitches.

In fact, when it comes to location-based privacy issues, there’s a good chance they’ll resolve themselves. Smart smartphone makers will provide the ability to turn off GPS tracking, temporarily or permanently. They’ll sell more phones that way. Smart merchants will be judicious about how they use even the anonymized data about customers’ habits and whereabouts they obtain, or they’ll be shunned. And smart consumers who don’t want to be tracked will not buy GPS- or other location-identifying phones.

In that regard, kerfuffles to come about how to keep your whereabouts private and still use location-tracking cell phones will have a bit of the flavor of the indecency debates involving another electronic communication device, the television.

If you don’t like the language or amount of flesh being aired on a particular channel, change the channel. Or stop subscribing. Or turn the TV off.

Same here. If you think your phone is being used as a portal into your world, rather than you using it as a portal into the world around you, you’ll find ways to block the intrusion. Or turn the phone off. Or change phones.

If the tracking becomes too obtrusive, the smartest phone may be a dumb phone.


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