Is Your Smartphone Spying on You? The House of Representatives Wants to Find Out

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Co BIY

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Jun 18, 2015
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I'd like to see tech journalists answer these questions first. Unfortunately taking a deep dive into this tech is very tough.

Congress is likely asking questions several generations old.

Lets bring in a panel of Apple Engineers in closed session and ask them "What are your concerns about the Android operating system ?" and the reverse. (But that may not work since they will not give up the game on a competitor since that gives up their game too.)

How about a cash whistle blowers prize for electronic privacy? Big enough to insure against industry blackballing for an insider. The X-prize for electronic freedom.
 

Giroro

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Jan 22, 2015
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If Congress actually cared about privacy and consumer rights, then they would pass literally any law to protect privacy and consumers.
Instead, they pass things like the CLOUD act, which allows foreign countries nearly unlimited access to collect and purchase US citizen's private data without a warrant. US law enforcement is then allowed to buy back that admissible evidence, and bypass the warrant process entirely.

They haven't even been able to pass a single common-sense guideline to protect our economy from the eventual collapse of the post-net-neutrality internet.
 

TJ Hooker

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I wish I could know how much you can control the "spying" through settings. I mean, if you do all your searches through google, use gmail, have google assistant, location history, etc. turned on then yeah your phone is "spying" on you, but you're basically telling it to at that point (in exchange for convenience, or possibly out of ignorance). I'd be really interested to see to what extent a user is able to limit telemetry and data harvesting simply through settings and choice of apps.
 

g-unit1111

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I discovered a freaky feature of Google Maps the other day. I got in my car and I was trying to route it to where I was going and instead it suggested somewhere I should be going instead based on "suggestions from my timeline" - and it's a restaurant I go to quite frequently. So it was actually *MONITORING* this place that I go to based on the amount of times I visit it. And of course turning it off did nothing so having a feature where you could turn it off would be nice, but the current features are pretty worthless.
 

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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One of the main problems is that a lot of cheesy apps use a standard framework, with their code in the middle.

Why does a flashlight app need access to the contacts list?
It doesn't. Turn the screen to 100% white. Done.
It's just that the framework wrapper has that code in there, and the clueless devs never took it out.
Click click install, and it knows you, and sends your contact list to wherever.

I shouldn't have to turn it off...it should never be in there to begin with.
 

TJ Hooker

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@g-unit1111 do you have location history enabled? If so, then it really is monitoring everywhere you go, and would notice that you go to that one restaurant frequently. If location history is the feature you tried turning off, it's possible that it merely prevents logging going forward. I think there's some setting/option where you can go in and see (as well as delete) whatever data has been logged thus far.
 

TJ Hooker

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Agreed, but with the last couple android versions you can manually grant/remove permissions for each app. So although the flashlight app may inexplicably ask for permission to my contacts, I can always deny it, and it will hopefully still work. The app for my bank asks for permissions to my contacts and calling function (for some useless sounding features I know I'll never use). I just deny it, and everything else still works fine.
 

g-unit1111

Titan
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Yeah apparently with Android if you disable the location feature then it takes a lot of the mapping functionality with it. So you can really either have one or the other, it seems.
 
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