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Privacy and Smartphone Apps: Documentary Review Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Aug 24th, 2022

The documentary is about the privacy risks posed by the many apps that people are using on their smartphones. According to the video, an average person has about 18 apps on their phone, including social media, fitness, games, and shopping. However, there is a price to pay for the fun and convenience introduced by these technological platforms. The researchers in the documentary created a simple horoscope application to establish how much data people give away when installing the apps on their android phones.

Those who downloaded their application gave it access to their location, phone camera, and microphone. These are some of the permissions that people who download apps give, which puts their data and privacy at risk. Some apps cannot operate on a smartphone without these permissions, an indicator of the extent to which their designers can go to access private information.

Lessons

I learned several important things from this documentary. First, the apps that people use on their smartphones are not free. One may not be charged a fee to use them, but personal data is the currency individuals use to purchase the applications’ services. Notably, most of the apps that charge people to use rarely collect personal data. Therefore, people should be wary of the applications marketed as free but require permission to access location, camera, photos, and other phone settings because one pays for the services they provide through personal data. Secondly, the documentary shows how valuable data is in the modern era of the big data economy.

The extent to which app designers go to collect data illustrates that it is a lucrative commodity. According to the documentary, many application designers sell data to third parties, so they can afford to provide free services to the downloader. However, the services are not free because they come at the expense of one’s privacy. Besides, the documentary makes it clear that cybercriminals can use applications. Some designers can use apps to extract vital private information from their targets and use it to perpetrate cybercrime activities such as extortion, impersonation, and financial fraud. Therefore, apps’ use presents very many risks, and people should be very careful when downloading them or giving them permission after downloading.

Questions and Thoughts

From the perspective of a privacy professional, I have several thoughts about the documentary’s revelations. First, I believe that privacy is a protected right and its violation by the application designers needs to be checked. The application industry needs to be regulated strictly to ensure that the privacy of users is protected. Laws should be developed to limit the extent to which the applications can collect data. If a person is not ready to give access to the information the application wants, they should be charged to use the service, and those who pay should not provide access to their data. Secondly, people should be taught about the importance of privacy and the risks that the use of app poses to make informed decisions before downloading apps or granting permissions to the ones they have downloaded. I would like to ask whether there is an international law that regulates the big data industry.

Variations in national laws may create loopholes, and technology-related privacy issues need to be regulated at the level of the international law to create a uniform framework that applies worldwide.

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IvyPanda. (2022, August 24). Privacy and Smartphone Apps: Documentary Review. https://ivypanda.com/essays/privacy-and-smartphone-apps-documentary-review/

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IvyPanda. "Privacy and Smartphone Apps: Documentary Review." August 24, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/privacy-and-smartphone-apps-documentary-review/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Privacy and Smartphone Apps: Documentary Review." August 24, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/privacy-and-smartphone-apps-documentary-review/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Privacy and Smartphone Apps: Documentary Review'. 24 August.

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