There are over 7 billion people in the world and almost 3.5 billion smartphones. In the next five years, the number of smartphones in use worldwide is expected to jump to almost 6.5 billion.
Research shows that, on average, smartphone owners spend about 28 days per year using their mobile devices. This breaks down to about one month per year; 55 hours per month or 13 hours per week that people spend interacting with these little networked computers.
During that time, your smartphone collects, records and shares a large amount of personal data on you. It is likely that your smartphone knows more about you than your own friends and family members.
Smartphones have become the networked nerve centers for people’s daily lives. In fact, your smartphone probably has more personal details and secrets on you than the FBI, CIA, DHS or any other federal government department.
Your smartphone may be your portable window on the world, but it is also a window onto you and your life. The complete, detailed personal record that could be contained on a person’s smartphone is staggering.
That information could include:
- Personal pictures and videos
- Past and current location information
- Health information
- Full names, addresses and phone numbers for friends and family members
- Text messages
- Audio recordings and personal conversations
- Financial records and account information
- Social media activity
- Interactions with apps
- Location information on your children
- Online purchase history
- Internet history
- Uber pickups and dropoff locations
- Yelp check-ins and reviews
Security professional, Elad Norad, recently told Bloomberg News that you can get enough information from the average person’s smartphone to create a virtual clone of that person. In addition, your smartphone probably contains a significant amount of personal information on the friends, family and other people that you communicate with.
It is estimated that 80 percent of people start using their smartphones within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning and 64 percent of people will use them within 15 minutes of going to bed at night. Furthermore, 61 percent of people use their smartphones while in the bathroom and 52 percent use them while waiting for something or someone.
These little compact computers have become our constant companions and confidants, which makes them a virtual vault of personal information about us and the people we associate with. This partly explains the high-stakes legal battle between Apple and the FBI over data encryption technology.
Not only are smartphones a repository for all of your personal details, habits and activities; it has also been reported that they are being used as surveillance devices by marketers and governments.
It is already known that some apps share information about you with advertisers. However, some people claim that their apps are listening through their phone’s microphone to serve them advertising that is related to the topics in their conversations.
In a recent BBC News article, “Is Your Smartphone Listening To You?”, it was reported how keywords and topics from people’s cell phone conversations are being used to deliver targeted advertising to them through their smartphones. The article even suggests that smartphone microphones are being used by marketers to listen in on nearby conversations of people. However, Google, Facebook and other tech giants deny that conversations that occur on or around smartphone microphones are being used for this purpose.
Regardless of whether or not your smartphone conversations are being used by app creators and marketers, it is clear that these digital companions contain an amazing amount of information about your locations, social contacts, habits and other personal details.