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Our daily grind has not been this dependent to smartphones and social web. Thus, we install apps and plugins left and right to make our lives easier, not mindful of rogue apps in the wild

 
 
With recent events involving misuse of our personal data and intrusive ads somehow prompted me to write, err, rant about rogue apps. This is not an expository post, just sharing my displeasure to the following experiences:
 

  • The Wi-fi provider of a popular mall in PH is requesting access to photos and videos in my phone, before I can connect to the service.
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  • An app of a popular news network in PH is requesting access to my SMS and call logs, when news reporting has nothing to do with messaging and telephony.
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  • Disqus, a 3rd party commenting system, began showing ads in this blog without my permission. These ads are not visible from my end, someone just alerted me of an ‘erection’ drug being advertised. When I figured out its disqus, I tried disabling or modifying the ads since I remember opting out before. Unfortunately, it can’t be done unless I upgrade to a paid subscription. Thank goodness, when I started using this plugin, I enabled the feature that also save comments made in their platform to WordPress comment. I since deleted disqus and reverted back to WordPress comments.
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  • Some online allegedly lending rogue apps harvesting photos and information users to shame them later if they fail to pay on their debts

 
Add to that, the recent Facebook data mining scandal should serve as wake-up call. Our digital footprints are being harvested, sold and used for commercial, political and other purposes.
 
Most end users are not mindful in giving potentially rogue apps access to the contents of their smartphones, or providing social media platforms too much personal info. Likewise, non techie bloggers, like me, rely on 3rd party plugins, to make our blogs ‘cool’.
 
More often than not, end users just tick the ‘I agree’ button even without reading the terms of use and privacy policy. Furthermore, without due diligence, end users approve the request of developers to access information, without considering the consequences.
 
 

So what can be done?

 
 

Make noise

 
Regulatory bodies in PH should be both proactive and aggressive in protecting our privacy interests. If possible, hold these platforms accountable with the digital footprints they have collected. This can happen when these agencies will coordinate with the concerned counterpart bodies where these giant social media platforms, and developers are based.
 
 

Know the risk

 

 
This is the best time to make end users understand the risks associated with the use of social web, mobile computing and apps. There is no such thing as free lunch, so end users should understand, through a cyber wellness campaign, how their digital footprints serves as payment for the free use of social media platforms or apps
 
 

Due diligence

 
As part promote digital accountability, end users must be educated of the following:

  • Read the terms of use and privacy policy before using an app or plugin or social media platform
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  • Be a critical thinker, ask if the request of developers to access a smartphone content has something to do with the service they provide.
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  • Be mindful of the info, images and videos you keep in your phone or store in social media. And always check your privacy settings. Knowing who can access what info and why, before ticking the agree button solves half of privacy violation issues.
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  • Report data privacy violations to the National Privacy Commission.

 
 

Do you have a similar story as mine? How did you handle the situation?.

 
 

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