The New York Times reports: Once, only hairdressers and bartenders knew people’s secrets.
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 even just going about daily life with a phone in your pocket. And this 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.
On Wednesday, the National Security Agency confirmed it had collected data from cellphone towers in 2010 and 2011 to locate Americans’ cellphones, though it said it never used the information.
“People don’t understand tracking, whether it’s on the browser or mobile device, and don’t have any visibility into the practices going on,” said Jennifer King, who studies privacy at the University of California, Berkeley and has advised the Federal Trade Commission on mobile tracking. “Even as a tech professional, it’s often hard to disentangle what’s happening.”
Drawbridge is one of several start-ups that have figured out how to follow people without cookies, and to determine that a cellphone, work computer, home computer and tablet belong to the same person, even if the devices are in no way connected. Before, logging onto a new device presented advertisers with a clean slate.
“We’re observing your behaviors and connecting your profile to mobile devices,” said Eric Rosenblum, chief operating officer at Drawbridge. But don’t call it tracking. “Tracking is a dirty word,” he said. [Continue reading…]