Taking Responsibility for your Data

An Australian survey conducted by Newspoll in Q2 of this year uncovered an interesting trend in the views of the public regarding mobile device data protection – views that are all too often mirrored on this side of the Pacific.

Of the 1,200 Australian and New Zealand residents queried, 80% of respondents felt that service providers – such as banks or hotels – were responsible for ensuring that mobile app data collections were secure. 75% claimed that government agencies were also responsible for protecting sensitive data sent out over mobile devices, and more than two thirds said that the companies who actually provided Internet access were responsible for locking collected data. Only 66% said that the individual was at least somewhat responsible for ensuring that any data they broadcasted on a mobile device was safe.

In other words, businesses, Internet companies, and the government are all more responsible for protecting your data than you are.

Unfortunately, this same kind of thinking is taking place here at home. In a report that dovetails with the findings of the Australian Newspoll survey, the FTC reported earlier this year that mobile applications geared toward younger users did not provide adequate privacy protection. In their publication on the matter, the FTC stated that they encouraged the “Expeditious implementation of “best practices” in the mobile app industry” to ensure proper safeguards were in place to protect data, and that proper disclosures to parents should be mandatory in future applications developed for younger users.

In other words, the FTC is taking mobile applications developers to task for not building policies that protect any data your child might send out over airwaves.

The use of mobile devices is exploding at an exponential rate, and the ability of Internet pirates to intercept sensitive transmissions is increasing as well. At some point, individuals must understand that the government is simply incapable of erecting an impenetrable shield that protects all our data, nor are the businesses that provide online services or Internet access. Ultimately, just like in your home or office, securing your valuables is your responsibility. Not only are government and corporate agencies incapable of providing you with perfect protection, but you really shouldn’t expect them to.

Now, I’m not saying that we should throw up our hands and surrender to a wild west, Laissez-faire model of the online world – regulations are important, but regulations only apply to those who play by the rules. Online thieves are, by definition, excluded from this group. As such, we must each take steps to ensure that we keep our private data… well, private.

If you’re sharing anything over the Internet, you should know that it could be intercepted. As such, it’s crucial that we all inoculate ourselves with a healthy dose of vigilance. Keeping an eye on your bank account, making sure your anti-virus software is up to date, and keeping your online exposure to a minimum by refusing to share information with sites or applications you don’t trust are far more effective than wishing and hoping that someone, somewhere is guarding your data.

– Jubal McMillan, Editor

More Information:

http://www.techworld.com.au/article/465156/mobile_app_data_protection_our_responsibility_say_australians/

http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/02/mobileapps_kids.shtm

http://www.unisys.com/unisys/countrysite/news/index.jsp?cid=300010&id=9500012

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