Voice Box: Privacy policies

Interviews by Myisha Kinberg, Staff Writer
Photos by Morgan Filsinger, Photographer


How do you feel when an app asks for your personal information to use or download it? And how do you feel about people you don’t know being able to access your personal information online?


Daniel Harsh

Daniel Harsh, 19 Tipton, undecided


“It’s a trade off we take between the freedoms that we have and the amount of service we get from the app. Things like Google require a lot of information, but we get so many free benefits. I’m willing to give up my privacy to get these free services that I might have had to pay for if I had used other companies.”






Adam Saunders

Adam Saunders, 25, Ypsilanti, photography


“I think it’s a good thing because it makes people more aware that they are allowing their information to be out in public. I don’t read privacy policies, but sometimes I do research on why an application would need or how they would use certain things such as my location. Anyone can access a phone number, a full name, and possibly a home address just by looking in a phone book whether we want that information to be out there or not it is. And it’s been public for a long time. It’s a more social culture now and instead of trying to be closed off from it, I think we should just be accepting.”




Edgar Vargas-Castillo

Edgar Vargas-Castillo, 19, Canton, automotive services


“It depends on what an app is trying to access, if it’s my photos or microphone I don’t mind so much. I does make me feel weird to think about strangers looking at my personal information, but I think chances of strangers being interested in my stuff isn’t very big.”







Marc Stephens

Marc Stephens, 47, Detroit, videography


“I don’t understand why I should give them my information. Sometimes I give out half-truths like the wrong age or a different last name since you have to enter something. When I post on Facebook I only post things that I want to share, but also won’t hurt me or get me in trouble. I wouldn’t be worried about people I know looking at my information because a lot of it has been public for quite sometime.”





Kelsey May

Kelsey May, 14 Canton, journalism


“I usually allow apps to access my pictures, but not my location. It scares me to think that random people can view my personal information. When I see other people using location and putting out a lot of information about themselves on social media, it makes me think twice about what I’m posting. Why should I be holding information back and others are so upfront about theirs? It’s actually worrisome to me to think about what this world has come to and how easy it is to find someone and find out so much information about them with just a few clicks. There is no clear line as to how much exposed personal information is too much, and I think we need to set boundaries.”





Ryan Green

Ryan Green, 17, Ypsilanti, undecided


“If I want to use an app I’m not going to delete it because it asks to access my photos or location. I do question why so many apps need my information and what it’s used for, but honestly I don’t care if apps access it.”






Anders Smith

Anders Smith, 16, Ann Arbor, video production


“If I download an app to use its services I don’t feel like I should be required to give my information. Having that requirement almost feels like a double payment. If apps have my information they often use it to advertise things to me by sending me emails and potentially phone calls. I keep my account private on Instagram so that I can provide the information I want to, but only people I allow to follow me can see it. I like when you can use privacy settings because I can control everything more easily.





Ben Sussman

Ben Sussman, 19, Brighton, mathematics


“It depends of what kind of information the app is asking for, but generally I try to make my information as public as possible so people can find me easily.”







Christopher Dale

Christopher Dale, 39, South Lyon, math and science


“I don’t mind letting apps access my personal information because I don’t feel like I have anything to hide. Even if I was bothered, I’m not sure I would know what to do since I still want to be on social media and that’s pretty hard to do without giving out information.”







Colin Gibson

Colin Gibson, 19, Howell, automotive services


“I hit okay without reading privacy policies and let them have access when I download apps. It can be concerning to think that apps could say they just need to access my photos, but have other stuff hidden in the privacy policy knowing that most people don’t read the policies. If they wind up having stuff hidden, I think that is a bad business practice.”





Katie McCullough

Katie McCullogh, 19, Ann Arbor, business


“I find it irritating and time consuming to have to allow access to all the different things apps feel they need to access when I download them. When I use social media I usually try to keep all my information private.”






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.