Are Apps Free, or Data Collectors?

When I was a child, my mom used to repeat over and over and over again that ‘nothing is free in this world’.  Boy was she right!  I started out ‘trying’ to understand how to review and explain steps we can use to ‘protect’ our data from the ‘free’ apps we are all using. In an article which appeared in the New York times about Uber and Unroll me, it appears that data was being collected unbeknownst to its users.

In the case of Uber, even after the app was erased from the devices, the fingerprinting, allowed Uber to track the iPhone after the app was erased.  It’s complicated the world we are living in today. made money scanning the contents of its users’ inboxes.  It’s to be expected right?  The article goes on to advise us all that we should read the privacy policies.  Of course, we are all doing that. Right?   Bottom line – you should ‘Audit Your Apps’ like Facebook, Twitter and Google.  You should also be aware that deleting your app from your computer may still leave data on the company’s servers.  As I said, it’s complicated! Source: How to Protect Your Privacy as More Apps Harvest Your Data By BRIAN X. CHEN MAY 1, 2017

♠ After reading the NYT article, it made me wonder what happens with the Instagram App, where personal photos, artwork and videos are collected and shared with friends and family: what do the users of the App know about the Instagram policy?

From a very thorough article by, Shelly Kramer here is a short summary of what I learned:

  • Even though you own  the videos and original photos you post, you grant Instagram the right to use them, and it can let others use them, too.
  • In fact, other people might pay Instagram to use your photos, but the company isn’t going to pay you, because you agree to that by agreeing to their TOS. Think about that for a minute.Instagram can keep, use, and share any and all information about you that it has.
  • This includes information like your name, birthday, phone number, where you live, your email address, where you work (or the school you go to), what you like and dislike (as you indicate by your actions on the platform), the photos you share, what your habits are (where you go, how often you use Instagram, etc.), what brands you like, who your friends are, what how often you interact with them, who you are chatting with—including in private messages—and any other personal information it finds. That’s pretty neat, isn’t it?
  • Instagram has the right to send you any advertisements based on your interests, which are being monitored. It won’t always be obvious that these advertisements are directed specifically to you, and you can’t opt out.
  • If Instagram is acquired by another company or sells or otherwise transfers any of its assets to another organization (i.e. merger, acquisition, bankruptcy), your information goes along with that.
  • The social network has the right to restrict your access to the network, at any time, for any reason and without any notice. Nice!

Source: Instagram’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy: What People and Brands Need to Know


Read more about mobile apps here



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