Your Privacy on Your Mobile Phone
Are you being tracked? New technology allows distrustful spouses or anxious parents to track your mobile phone locating your position at any time of day. And that’s not the only threat to your privacy. Far more worrying are the eavesdroppers, covert photographers, and shops that use your mobile to deliver unwanted ads…
Tracking Your LocationThe mobile tracking you’ve probably seen on television is now being offered to the general public. This news has wrought terror in thousands of young teenagers and spouses who prefer to keep their leisure activities private. Tracking companies are even targeting employers, who are able to track their staff members and receive detailed reports on their daily movements.How does it work? Mobile phone tracking is set up using the SIM card, with an ID number that trackers can then enter online to view a real-time location. Although this can be legitimately initiated by asking permission from the phone user, the system is open to misuse. A journalist experimented by tracking his girlfriend – he set up the track while he was at home, then borrowed her mobile and accepted the trace (sending an acceptance message). Although the tracking company is legally required to send occasional warning messages to the trackee’s mobile, the journalist reported that none of the phones in his experiment received any such warnings. Other journalists have found that it is perfectly possible to track someone for two or more days before they receive a warning.
How do you avoid it? Fortunately, the Data Protection Act saves the day. Tracking companies are legally obliged to ask permission from the tracked person, and then to offer options for dropping out or registering preferences. For instance, a tracked teenager can contact the tracking company to stop them carrying out traces on weekends. If you suspect you’re being tracked, look out for suspicious text messages, and keep your mobile switched off when you don’t need to receive any calls.
Camera Phones – The New ThreatMobiles carry another major threat to our privacy. Privacy International has, for more than three years, campaigned against camera phones. They argue that every mobile phone should incorporate a flash, warning subjects of the camera, to prevent covert photography from taking place.
Ever since the invention of the traditional camera, experts have raised concerns about the privacy issues around photography. The fact that you can be snapped in the street, in your garden, or on holiday, without your consent, contains a host of security implications. Secret photography has been published on the internet, broadcast on the news, and even used for blackmail.Camera phones have multiplied the problems. Their small size and innocent appearance make them perfect for voyeurs or blackmailers. While you’re unlikely to be photographed in intimate positions, it’s terribly easy for someone to photograph you in a shop dressing room or a public swimming pool. In Australia mobiles are banned in and around swimming pools. In Korea, the voyeur problem became so bad that the government stepped in and took action. Phone manufacturers are required to incorporate a camera ‘click’ noise of 65 decibels+. Privacy International is calling for similar measures in the UK, although they haven’t yet been able to influence a decision. The association is pushing for international standards in order to put a stop to the privacy invasion problems.
What can you do?
- Switch your mobile phone off when not in use
- Don’t give out your mobile phone number on forms – use your landline
- Don’t transmit your credit card details via your mobile.