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Policies without the privacy

social media privacy policy table

Taylor Robinson, Erik Morris | Washtenaw Voice

By Taylor Robinson
Staff Writer

 

In early February, news began to spread about Samsung television microphones recording more than just typical voice commands.

Samsung simply replied that the user can deactivate this feature along with completely deactivating the ability for voice recognition. They also made it clear that consumers were not blind-sighted and the information was provided within the privacy policy.

This raises questions about privacy policies in general. Is the intent of these policies to protect the consumer or the company?

According to a 2012 article in “The Atlantic,” it would take the average person approximately eight hours a day for 76 days straight to read all of the content provided by the average number of privacy policies they encounter in one year.

Oh, privacy policies. The barriers for every downloadable application on a smartphone device. Every day, at all times of the day, millions of people stay constantly connected to the Internet via their cellphones and other small devices.

While apps continue to make accessing information easier for the consumer, it also becomes easier for advertisers and other unknown third parties to access personal information.

Washtenaw Community College’s web design and development instructor, Kelley Gottschang, is no stranger to the concerns over privacy policies.

“The problem with these little devices is that they start to become you. I love my device. People sleep with their device. They put it under their pillow. It’s never more than a foot away from them,” Gottschang said. “This whole thing is you. It goes where you go and leaves a trail.”

When agreeing to a privacy policy, the application will ask for access regarding certain information including and not limited to the person’s contacts, photos, location, media files, identity, microphone, camera, and so on. While some apps find this necessary for protection, sometimes more harm is being done than help.

Ashlee Rothfuss, 20-year-old graphic design major from Manchester is familiar with Apple and Android devices. Now an Android user, she commented that Android applications are much more blunt when it comes to the information being accessed. A drop down list appears briefly explaining the terms and conditions for downloading that app. Apple on the other hand, gives the long-winded version. “I like the Android better. I feel like they are more upfront. It will give you bigger hints such as using your contacts or messaging. Apple just gives you the straight up policy that nobody wants to read so you just hit ‘Accept,’” said Rothfuss.