In an age where smartphones have become an extension of our daily lives, there is a growing concern about the potential for these devices to spy on us.
While many of us may be aware of the possibility of our personal information being collected, few of us truly understand the extent to which our data is being used to target us with advertisements.
In recent years, advertisers have become increasingly sophisticated in targeting consumers.
With the help of algorithms that track our online behaviour, companies can now create hyper-targeted ads tailored to our interests and preferences.
But as more and more people become aware of the ways in which their data is being used, there is a growing debate about whether these practices are ethical, or even legal.
This article will explore the issue of ad placement in relation to the topic of phones spying on us, and examine the ways in which our personal information is being used to target us with advertising.
Some of the recent news about it: From TikTok to mass surveillance
As of the 23rd of March, TikTok’s CEO is set to appear in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to address concerns over whether the Chinese-owned app is collecting data on Americans and using subversive propaganda campaigns.
The hearing will focus on TikTok’s actions to safeguard data privacy and prevent harm to kids who consume content on the social media app.
This comes amid widespread calls to shut down or sell the app to a US company due to fears of Beijing accessing Americans’ data.
Barely a few months ago, a new spying technique called EarSpy emerged.
It has been discovered that EarSpy allows hackers to listen in on phone conversations through motion sensors. Although it’s only theoretical for now, it’s the latest in a string of phone security worries.
Smartphones are perfect devices for spying since they rarely leave their owner’s side, contain sensitive information, and have several sensors that can be used to capture secrets. EarSpy uses a phone’s speaker and accelerometer to measure the vibrations produced by the speaker.
The researchers found that newer phone models are more susceptible to this hack.
Unfortunately, EarSpy is only one of many ways that phone security can be compromised. Experts suggest being cautious about the applications installed on your phone, updating it regularly, and using the maximum privacy settings.
Mike Parkin, a senior technical engineer at Vulcan Cyber, emphasised that modern cell phones have capabilities that make them essentially all-in-one surveillance devices.
Therefore, it is crucial to be careful about what applications are installed on the phone, ensure that it is up to date, has an appropriate anti-malware application installed, and is set for maximum privacy settings.
Additionally, it’s important to know how much information an app is collecting and where it’s transmitting that information.
For example, if an app is used to track workouts, it should not convey excessive amounts of personal information when the user is not actively using it.
Does the same thing happen with all kinds of smartphones?
Most smartphones have similar capabilities to collect and use data, regardless of the brand or operating system. However, the specific data that is collected and how it is used may vary between devices and operating systems.
For example, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems have different approaches to data collection and privacy. iOS is generally considered to be more privacy-focused, with features like App Tracking Transparency and the ability to limit access to devise features like the camera and microphone. Android, on the other hand, offers more flexibility and customisation options but may require more user intervention to manage privacy settings.
Ultimately, it’s important to be aware of the data collection practices of the specific smartphone that we use and take steps to manage our privacy accordingly.
It’s important to note that different smartphone models and operating systems may collect and use different types of data.
Some examples of data that may be collected include:
– Location data: This can be used to provide location-based services like maps and weather apps, but it can also be used for targeted advertising or to track your movements.
– Personal information: This includes data like your name, address, email address, and phone number. It can be collected by apps or websites that you use and may be used for targeted advertising or sold to third-party companies.
– Usage data: This includes information about how you use your phone, such as which apps you use, how often you use them, and how long you spend on each app. This data can be used for targeted advertising or to improve the performance of the phone.
– Biometric data: This includes data like your fingerprint or facial recognition information, which may be used for security purposes but can also be vulnerable to hacking or misuse.
Can you stop your phone from listening to you?
While there have been concerns that smartphones listen to our conversations to display targeted ads, the general consensus among experts is that our phones do not actively listen to us without our permission.
However, there are some instances where it may appear that our phones are “listening” to us, such as when we mention a product or place and then see ads related to it.
In reality, this is more likely to be a result of the data that our phones collect through our internet searches, location tracking and app usage.
That being said, there are steps that can be taken to limit the amount of data that our phones collect about us.
For example, turning off unnecessary app permissions, using a virtual private network (VPN) to browse the internet, and regularly reviewing and deleting unnecessary apps can help to reduce the amount of personal information that our phones collect.
#1 Review app permissions
Many apps ask for access to a wide range of data on our devices, including our contacts, location, microphone, and camera. However, we can control which permissions we grant to each app. It’s a good idea to review these permissions regularly and disable any that are unnecessary or that we are not comfortable with.
#2 Use privacy settings
Most mobile devices have privacy settings that allow us to control how our data is collected and shared.
For example, we can turn off location tracking or limit access to our contacts. These settings may be found in the device’s settings menu or in individual apps.
#3 Use a virtual private network (VPN)
A VPN encrypts our internet traffic and hides our IP address, making it more difficult for our online activity to be tracked or monitored. This is particularly important when using public Wi-Fi networks or when browsing sensitive websites.
#4 Be mindful of the apps we install
Some apps may collect more data than others or may share our data with third-party advertisers or data brokers.
#5 Review and delete unnecessary apps
Apps that we no longer use may still be collecting data on our devices.
It’s a good idea to review our installed apps regularly and delete any that we no longer need or use.
In conclusion, our phones are capable of collecting and using data about us for advertising purposes, and there are concerns about the ethics and legality of these practices.
While different smartphone models and operating systems may collect and use different types of data, it is important to be aware of the data collection practices of the specific smartphone that we use and take steps to manage our privacy accordingly.
There are steps that can be taken to limit the amount of data that our phones collect about us, such as turning off unnecessary app permissions, using a virtual private network (VPN) to browse the internet, and regularly reviewing and deleting unnecessary apps.
While concerns about smartphone security and privacy are valid, it is important to note that our phones do not actively listen to us without our permission.