Questions for ‘Smartphones put your privacy at risk’


Smartphones have become essential companions, but they spy on you all the time. And they may “leak” that data.


To accompany feature “Smartphones put your privacy at risk”


Before Reading

1.  Do you have a smartphone? How often do you use it? What do you use it for? Do you leave it on all the time or shut it off during the day or night? (If you don’t have a smartphone of your own, answer these questions as if you did have one.)

2.  What kind of information is kept on your phone? How would you feel if a company or stranger had access to that information?

During Reading

1.  Why did Google recently boot 20 apps from Android phones and its app store?

2.  Why are motion detectors good tools for any sneaky individual looking to collect data on some phone user?

3.  How can motion data be used to deduce a phone user’s keystrokes?

4.  Most tests of apps that snoop on a person’s phone are made in controlled settings, such as a university laboratory. Why might a real-world test give different results?

5.  How are motion-sensor data from a trip on the subway or in a car different from the data generated as poeple pull phones from their pockets?

6.  Why do some legitimate apps harvest info like searches and app downloads?

7.  What are three types of safeguards that scientists have developed to protect smartphone users from apps that target their personal data?

8.  Why hasn’t Android incorporated any of the sensor safeguards proposed by researchers?

9.   Why will the search for smartphone safeguards never be over?

After Reading:

1.  Many of the solutions proposed for making data on smartphones more secure would make the devices less easy to use. They might even break some apps. What kind of balance should developers be looking for between security and ease-of-use? Which is more important to you? Why?

2.  After reading this article, will you change how you use a smartphone? Why or why not? Use evidence from the story to support your answer.