Seven Tips to Help You Deter Invasive Mobile App Development

Mobile App Development Miami

Must mobile app development entail the smartphone user profiling and tracking that fuels ad targeting and facilitates government surveillance? Miami mobile app developer WebFL.US doesn’t think so.

Many mobile app developers are exploiting the user data collection, activity/location tracking, tendency/preference profiling and consumer exploitation models of online marketing leviathans like Fakebóók and Góógle: You’re opted-in for targeting by advertisers if you don’t opt out – and likely for “TLA” government surveillance even if you do.

Why? Because on the Internet, if you’re not a paying customer then you’re probably the product. If the business is for-profit and their software or service is “free”, then access to and information about you is what they’re selling to advertisers – and providing to government agencies. The Mobile Web is no exception. Here are seven tips to help you deter invasive mobile app development and protect you from other threats to Internet privacy and online security:

1. Your smartphone knows everything about you – where you are (GPS/IP), what your emails say, what mobile apps you use, and what you search for. Washington State’s KPBJ.com advises:

The new focus on tracking users through their devices and online habits comes against the backdrop of a spirited public debate on privacy and government surveillance. Last week, the National Security Agency (NSA) confirmed it had collected data from cellphone towers in 2010 and 2011 to locate Americans’ cellphones… Privacy advocates fear that consumers do not realize just how much of their private information is on their phones and how much is made vulnerable simply by downloading and using apps, searching the mobile Web or going about daily life with a phone.

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2. A virtual private network (VPN) can cloak your real IP address and location plus protect you from identify theft when using WiFi hotspots. As reported by TorrentFreak.com:

Earlier this month IVPN ran a survey among 1,054 new customers, quizzing them on their motivations to sign up. The results [show] that the PRISM scandal was the most mentioned reason with 28%, followed by several anti-piracy initiatives with 22% in total and the Patriot Act (11%)… [IVPN also noted] that after the PRISM revelations the company witnessed a 56% increase in sign-ups… “The PRISM reports are bringing to light the horrendous privacy issues that have existed on the internet. It is clearly the time for cypherpunks to take action,” CEO Andrew Lee of VPN Private Internet Access says.

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3. Offshore email services will not scan your emails to target ads and can protect you from unwarranted (NSA) government surveillance. From Lawfareblog.com:

[There] are limits to the NSA’s reach [and] those with a special interest in secure communications are probably looking into jurisdictional alternatives. Email may suffer from intrinsic insecurity, but a quick search online yields comprehensive information on which countries boast user-friendly encryption laws. [Alternatives] include CounterMail, with servers in Sweden; MyKolab and Neomailbox, both based in Switzerland; the Java-enabled version of Hushmail, which operates out of Vancouver; and the ingenious Bitmessage, a decentralized service that leaves the government without anyone to subpoena and which auto-deletes emails after two days.

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4. Free smartphone open source replacement firmware and mobile app repositories (FOSS) can protect you from privacy-invading mobile apps. According to this source:

Discussing the many tools and services that could help people buck surveillance, technologists pointed to the wide and technologically-advanced world of free and open source software. For instance, instead of using Android, you can opt for CyanogenMod, a fork of Android which is stripped of all code related directly to Góógle. Another option is Replicant, a free Android distribution that is based on CyanogenMod. [And] people who wish to opt out of dubious apps can download from F-Droid, a free and open source alternative to the Góógle Play Store.

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5. Anonymous search engines do not track (DNT) you or your searches and have little to share with PUSH-y advertisers or government agencies. GigaOM describes another alternative:

Disconnect, a startup co-founded by a former Góógle engineer, is fast becoming a darling of privacy advocates… This week, the company expanded its offerings to include Disconnect Search, which it built with the help of a former NSA engineer… Once Disconnect Search is installed, the search experience is the same – the user sees the same set of search results as she normally would (though they come up just a mite slower). The big difference is that Góógle or Bíng can’t keep records of the searches since the queries are encrypted and routed through Disconnect…

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6. Never install or update a mobile app without reading the terms of service (TOS). You may be amazed at what you’re giving up for a “free” app. As PrivacyRights.org advises:

Research apps before you download them. Look at how many people have downloaded the app, read what they have said about it, determine who created it, and if you are skeptical do some further research. Look up the app’s privacy ratings on Stanford Center for Internet and Society’s WhatApp.org [currently down] or on Clueful… Ask yourself, “Is this app requesting access to only the data it needs to function?” If the answer is no, don’t download it. If you are using an Android phone, the install screen will give you details about what data it will access.

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7. Never develop a mobile app without considering privacy rights. Let WebFL.US show you how the Golden Rule applies to mobile app development.

As an expert-rated and ethical Miami app development firm, WebFL.US subscribes to the best practices Mobile App Privacy Guidelines promulgated by the Future of Privacy Forum and the Center for Democracy & Technology. We also pledge to respect the Mobile User Privacy Bill of Rights declaration of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. For more information please call Bruce Arnold at 877-919-5351.