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How Much Are You Helping Big Brother?

March 22, 2017 at midnight

“It’s for your own good.”

That's what your parents used to tell you, right?

Just this week, Wikileaks dropped more bombshells, releasing scores of documents with detailed information on the methodology, technology, frequency, and the extreme ease in which our government spies on its citizens.

Big Brother.

Why Should We Care?

Many Americans buy into the notion that to gain security, we must give up our privacy. In September 2013, shortly after Edward Snowden revealed classified information about government agencies' wiretapping capabilities and practices, the New York Times conducted a survey of its readership.

75% said they approved of tracking phone records and listening to conversations of anyone suspected of terrorist activity.

73% approved of the monitoring, by Internet, of people who lived in foreign countries.

Our Own Worst Enemy

But the federal government will do what they see fit, regardless of our opinion. One area we do have control over is the privacy we give up voluntarily. Each time we download an app, for example, we're probably giving away large amounts of data as well as our permission to third-party corporations to spy on us.

Most of these companies use your data for marketing. However, how can we be sure what actually happens to that data? Experts point out that our privacy concerns could largely be eliminated by using better judgment when installing new apps on our smartphones. Here are three tips:

1. Check for Appropriateness

Read the list of permissions before you download. If they don't make sense in the context of the app, don’t download or use it.

Remember that insidious flashlight app? Users noticed decreased battery life and overheating phones even when the app was not in use. It was subsequently discovered that Brightest Flashlight, one of the main offenders, was snatching user’s personal information and sending it to targeted advertisers. The developer was charged by the FTC for misrepresentation.

2. Check the Grade

Websites like PrivacyGrade have become invaluable sources of information. They let the consumer know if an app is safe to download. Check.

3. Check for Necessity

If you don’t need it, don’t get it. This is the best solution since new apps appear in app stores every minute. Watchdog groups cannot always stay ahead of the game. Sure, it may be tough to show restraint when your need for entertainment is at stake but think about it carefully.

It may really be for your own good.


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