What Privacy? How The Government Can Spy On You Via Your Smartphone
I’m sure we can all remember our first encounters with the iPhone.
We took in the rounded, supple edges of its rectangular bodice; the curvaceous depression of the home screen button; the chiseled, porcelain image of a bitten apple that so aptly reminded the consumer that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Even now as I type, I feel unexplainable joy looking at my iPhone 6, with its cracked Alpha Glass screen that lovingly mows jagged gashes across my face every time I accept a phone call.
Forgive the "Fifty Shades of Grey"-esque banter, but I feel there is no other way to accurately depict the hysteria that surrounds Apple products.
The consumption of Apple products — iPhones in particular — is at an all-time high. iPhone sales make up more than half of Apple's net sales and with the release of the iPhone 6, about 43 percent of US smartphone users now own Apple iPhones.
This is a huge deal because while the Android mobile operating system is shared collectively by Samsung, LG, HTC and Motorola, Apple has its own operating system, iOS, which commands about 42 percent of mobile subscriptions.
Of course, Android remains the reigning queen (yes, queen) of mobile operating system subscriptions, but Apple soundly defeats Android in the arena of loyal consumerism.
A recent WDS study revealed that 76 percent of Apple customers upgrade from one iPhone to the next while only 58 percent of Samsung users upgrade to another Samsung. For a company like Apple, which only released its first mobile product in 2007, these are remarkable statistics.
I could go on and on about the awesomeness of Apple’s financial success as far as iPhones go, but you could merely Google those statistics and I could end this piece right here.
Contrarily, I want to analyze the actual awesomeness, or lack thereof, of the iPhone itself and its accompanying “suspicious” technology.
Picture this: You begin dating this new guy or gal. As we all know, the “trust factor” is heightened at the beginning of a relationship for fear that we might appear too paranoid too early in a relationship and end up single again, sooner rather than later.
So, Billy Bob or Sally Sue tells you he or she is going to a “friend’s” house to “study” for an “exam” and immediately, your Inspector Gadget antennae shoot up.
You don’t believe Billy Bob or Sally Sue is really going to said “friend’s” house to “study” for an “exam.” So what do you do?
You try to track his or her current location using your nifty iPhone. Inconveniently, Billy Bob or Sally Sue has turned off the location feature, rendering your stalker antics useless.
Were you aware, however, that the location data can still be stored and transmitted back to Apple and subsequently to other “organizations” (the government) even when the location is turned off?
A study published in the Wall Street Journal on iPhone tracking capabilities confirmed that location data, such as location coordinates and timestamps, can, indeed, be recorded and stored even when location services are turned off.
So, while regular human citizens are unable to stalk their loved ones, these “organizations” (again, the government) can be granted access to do so.
Google, which owns the mobile operating system of Android, has already granted the National Security Agency (NSA) permission to insert codes that “improve” on Android security.
“NSA officials say their code, known as Security Enhancements for Android, isolates apps to prevent hackers and marketers from gaining access to personal or corporate data stored on a device,” the article further outlines.
Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano went so far as to “confirm that the company has already inserted some of the NSA’s programming in Android OS.” So as it appears, iPhone users are still safe from NSA… for now.
Turning the attention back to the iPhone’s “suspicious” technology, I think it's appropriate to discuss the new Touch ID feature that was first introduced with the iPhone 5 series of mobile devices.
With the Touch ID feature, the user has the ability to unlock his or her iPhone by merely using a fingerprint image, which, of course, has been conveniently stored in the phone’s fingerprint scanner.
If your location can still be stored and transmitted, even when the location services are turned off, what makes you think your fingerprint isn’t being harvested and hoarded in a fingerprint database owned by other “organizations” (once again, the government)?
Harvesting fingerprints without consent is a major violation of our right to privacy. Of course, this is just my speculation. I have no guaranteed proof that the government is tracking its citizens for “safety” precautions.
But, for anyone who doesn’t see the likelihood of this scenario, I have some prime real estate to sell you on Pluto, which, indeed, is still a planet.
Let me conclude here by simply saying that Awkward Archie may have a point about maintaining use of the archaic flip phone he’s had since 2000.
At least Big Brother can’t track how many times he has to make a Starbucks run — allegedly, of course.