Privacy: There’s an App for That

July 19th, 2013 | Articles, Job Search | 1 Comment »

internet privacy

Recent revelations about the NSA, Google Glass, Verizon, and anything regarding social media has left us feeling as if we have as much privacy as a goldfish in a bowl.* Like any human fear, whether reasonable or not, there is money to be made from it. As social media sites and certain tech companies capitalize on making celebrities of the general population, other developers are focusing on the backlash of the glass house we have created in society.

According to polls conducted by the Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor, 85% of Americans believe that their communications history, like phone calls, emails, and internet use, are accessible to the government, businesses, and others. On top of that, 66% of respondents also feel that they have little or no control over the type of information that is collected and used by various groups and organizations.

Businesses have made it a point to collect as much data on consumers as possible and now use that data to tailor personalized ads for Facebook users and the like. Additionally, smartphones and the coming release of the Google Glass are making it easier to film anyone in public with the click of a button – often leaving the subject none the wiser.

So what’s a privacy loving person to do?

Enter privacy based applications, the savior to those who fear that the intrusiveness of the internet has gone too far. For others, these applications allow them to maintain a “having my cake and eating it too” mentality, permitting them to place their entire lives online while minimizing the damage they potentially inflict on their privacy.

Strange as it sounds, developers in the area of social media, often the greatest offenders of privacy, were some of the first to strike back with apps defending privacy. Snapchat, currently available on iOS and Android platforms, has made a platform that allows pictures and videos to be shared amongst users without the threat of them remaining in cyberspace forever. Users can choose a time ranging from 1-10 seconds for which the recipient has to view the data before it is deleted both from the device and Snapchat’s server. Facebook later reacted with their own version of this application, Poke, which similarly eliminates content after it has been viewed by the receiving user.

In April of this year, mobile developers from Evidon released one of the first known applications that blocks companies from gathering data for internet advertisements. Officially named Ad Control, the applications went on sale at Apple’s App Store, and disables ad tracking on a person’s device. Similar applications that rival Ad Control are sure to quickly follow.

But what to do about Google Glass?

How can someone prevent a person from recording them in public? Japan’s National Institute of Informatics has already got that covered. The tech R&D department has already developed a pair of glasses as a counter to Google’s Glass: the Privacy Visor. The visor uses 11 near-infrared LED lights that shine across the wearers face, obscuring their image in any photograph or video taken by an infrared sensitive camera, and blocking facial recognition software.

With privacy becoming a major concern for consumers, it will only be a matter of time before developers in the IT field spend a lot of resources developing technology that can build virtual walls around a person’s internet presence, creating an industry that holds quite the potential for profitable gains.

By Kevin Withers

* The Goldfish in a bowl analogy is originally attributed to Princess Margaret

Image courtesy of doegox via Flickr

One Response to “Privacy: There’s an App for That”

  1. Timothy Perkins says:

    What isn’t there an app for?