Is Giving Up All Your Data Really Worth a $.50 Coupon?

This topic has been on my mind lately and I was so happy this week to catch this post. I will dig into the details of their research a bit more when the chance arises. For now: Carnegie Mellon Gives Privacy Grade to Android Apps

Here’s the summary –> We are all downloading and installing apps on our devices that have way more access to the info on the device than they actually need in order to function. This includes the Apple fans who need to obtain every new device and app out there, the Google fans who must have the resources of Google at their fingertips, and the schools who rush to get the latest-and-greatest devices and apps in the hands of their teachers and students.

If you use a smart phone, tablet, or any other device that uses apps, do yourself a favor and start to show some concern here. Here’s what you need to do to see how out of control data collection is:

1. Pick the name of a big box store. Make sure it isn’t already an app you have installed on your device.
2. Go into the app store on your device and search for that big box store app.
3. When you find it, read the details of the app permissions. Sometimes you have to touch to install in order to see these permissions. Don’t install it, just read. And read. And read.

Now, you decide if you think the app really needs those permissions. I’ve posted a screen shot below of a popular one. This store needs access to your phone and call logs? The last calls you’ve made? To read your contacts and calendar? Names of connected Wi-Fi devices? Whether a call is active and the remote number connected by the call? Why? Yet, millions of users voluntarily give up this data. Store apps, education apps, game apps … they all want data. And lots of it. Heck, even Plants v. Zombies wants to know if your phone is in a call and the remote number connected by the call. That means when your mom, who doesn’t have a smart phone calls you on yours while you are playing the game, her phone number could be sent to the game manufacturer, EA Inc. No one even questions this nonsense?


Ask yourself if the once a month free coffee you get from the app is worth giving up tons of personal data details from your device including the details of those you may be interacting with on said device. We literally have no idea what is happening with all these newly created data points. Will the data that indicates you ‘check-in’ to a lot of local drinking establishments someday make it’s way to your health insurance provider? When you are using the Maps app in combination with GPS enabled, is data going to one day be sent to your state’s DMV or police department to let them know how fast you drive? If you are ok with this, fine. That’s your call and I will work hard to make sure that data is not misused while you sip your coffee and drive fast. If you aren’t fine with this, great. Join the fight to #ProtectData, especially the data of educators, their students, and their families.

Schools and educators need to step up and start to ask more questions. Stop the rush to get the device and apps and start to figure out why you need them and what you hope to accomplish with them. Review Terms of Service agreements and stop skipping past them. Check app permissions and ask app creators why they have a need for such device access. Find alternatives. Protect student, educator, and family data.

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