We’re not implying you’re taking secret meetings, but (if you are) be forewarned. Your smartphone may be keeping track.
“An examination of 101 popular smartphone “apps”—games and other software applications for iPhone and Android phones—showed that 56 transmitted the phone’s unique device ID to other companies without users’ awareness or consent. Forty-seven apps transmitted the phone’s location in some way. Five sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders.”
Among the smartphones, the iPhone and its apps were the worst violators. The app Text Plus 4 for the iPhone sent the phone’s unique ID—which cannot be changed or turned off—to eight advertising companies and even sent the phone’s zip code, the user’s age, and the user’s gender, to two others. Ostensibly, this information is used to generate targeted ads to consumers. In reality, this lack of anonymity and the lack of authorization violate federal computer-fraud law, or, in the least, leave consumers vulnerable to identity theft, fraud, or inadvertent information sharing. For sensitive material retrieved by attorneys on their smartphones, this is especially bad news.
A major smartphone industry leader, Pandora, disclosed to the WSJ today that it has received a subpoena related to a grand-jury investigation of information-sharing practices by smartphone apps. Pandora believes they are not alone in the investigation. In fact, they suspect similar information-sharing subpoenas have likely been distributed industry-wide.
Until consumers are fully versed on the information-sharing capabilities of their cell, warn your associates about the hazards of keeping too much personal information on their smartphones, including the hazards of free and paid apps—even games—in tracking your location. Since the federal government in is new in regulating this market, start your own firm-wide regulations regarding email access on smartphones. If it is not policy already, make it a mandatory for associates to password-protect their phones with at least a 10-digit, secret alphanumeric code to prevent possible violations of privacy. Otherwise, your associates’ and partners’ smartphones, with both personal and private firm information, may as well be in the hands of the highest bidder.