SMARTPHONES AND BIG DATA – THE END OF PRIVACY
FADI ABU ZUHRI
Technology is rapidly advancing. The technology that was there ten years ago is not the technology that is there today and it will not be there in ten years to come, as new technologies would have been adopted (Briggs & Thomas, 2015). Smartphone manufacturers have adopted various biometric security measures such as voice recognition, fingerprints, facial recognition and IRIS scanners to protect its users. In the not too distant future, biometric scanners and other new security measures would be commonplace. This article shows how such technological advancements can be creepy, as the safety of users’ information would no longer be guaranteed.
WHAT YOUR SMARTPHONE MIGHT BE REVEALING ABOUT YOU
A smartphone can say so much about a person’s personality including the person’s likes and dislikes, the person’s location, which services are being used and how much time spent on various apps, even the mood can be predicted. The smartphone could in fact trigger services to send the individual targeted advertisements (Tene & Polonetsky, 2013).
A study conducted by the University of Lancaster indicated that the operating system of a smartphone, whether Android or OS can depict the personality of an individual. Apparently, people who used Android phones were found to be more honest and humble than those who used iPhones. Further research indicated that Android phone users were found to be kinder, more open and less extroverted that OS users. They concluded by stating that the smartphone is the most basic level of personalization, which can tell a lot about a user (Shaw, Ellis, Kendrick, Ziegler, & Wiseman, 2016).
The applications that the users download could also tell about their personality traits, where that person is downloading from and the services that the individual is using which allow advertising companies to send targeted ads to that individual. A future with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) implants offer a wide range of challenges and opportunities with identifying pepole (Rotter, Daskala, & Compano, 2008). It has become more and more apparent that the smartphone is the mini digital version of a user and that is why many users do not like other people using their smartphones. This calls for the use of security measures such as biometric scanners to protect the users.
THE PROS AND CONS OF BIOMETRIC SCANNERS
Over the years, smartphone manufacturers have managed to upgrade these devices with embedded biometric scanners (Mayer-Schönberger & Cukier, 2014). Smartphone manufacturers companies have started adding biometric scanners to protect the users. The biometric scanners are beneficial in that they can identify criminals, understand an individual’s online behavior, and predict the political or religious affiliations of that person (Hubbard, 2008). For instance, when a criminal tries to withdraw funds from a person’s online banking through a smartphone, biometric scanners may be able to detect that there is a change of fingerprints and use mechanisms to protect the user such as locking down of the smartphone to prevent withdrawal of the funds. A biometric scanner could proactively scans for viruses to protect the user of the smartphone (Gilbert, 2009).
However, this has proven to be more creepy than beneficial since the personal information of the users can be compromised if someone can hack the biometric scanner. The biometric scanner stores personal information such as the fingerprints of an individual, individual likes and dislikes, app preferences, physical location, etc. (Lieberoth & Hansen, 2011). The biometric scanner could predict a person’s political or religious affiliations. For example, if political elections registers voters using biometric registration, this information can be linked to the person (Greenberger & Padesky, 2015). It is, therefore, evident that future smartphone with more biometric scanners are creepier as they are in a position to store personal information, identify criminals, understand the online behavior of an individual, and depict his or her political or religious affiliations.
HOW BIG DATA IS MARKING THE END OF PRIVACY
It is being suggested that smartphones will, in future, carry out blood tests, medical scans, and even offer diagnosis by linking with advanced medical profiles and databases. Biosensors would be linked to smartphones, monitor the patient’s vital signs and treatment (Topol, 2016).
Powerful alogorithms that run the in backend and link to your smartphone could help the government fight terrorism or online retailers predict buying patterns. For example, Amazon, through its Kindle application, knows which section of the book is most engaging and which one is not. This information can be used to target the user with other interesting sections or prompt the reader to buy another book. Big data and real-time constant surveillance through our smartphones mark the start of new digital revolutions that can change the way we think and interact in a new world. Big data could even predict our future behavior and possibly implicate us for something we did not even do (Mayer-Schönberger & Cukier, 2014).
While the benefits of smartphones and in-built security are much touted, one needs to consider the power they are increasingly being vested with as technology advances. With the emergence of new technologies, smartphone manufacturers can enhance more security measures for the users while at the same time store more personal information (Ferguson, 2015). The personal information that is likely to be kept by a biometric scanner includes an individual’s fingerprints, personality traits, likes and dislikes, political and religious affiliations, geo-location, preferred apps and so forth (Fadiman, 2012).
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