PrivacyGrade

To PIMS or not to PIMS

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So another PIMS app downloaded and I hope this doesn’t end in the same old “meh” feeling I usually get.  There needs to be something more exciting or enticing about this stuff, despite its importance and function in our everyday lives.

I have tried quite a few of these tools/platforms/apps now.  I sign up to them  for research into the realm  of digital privacy, so I can share my findings with others and selfishly to exploit the best method of managing my own data.  Snooze… That’s my point.  How do I successfully drive interest and make people care about understanding what happens to all the data we type into our PCs, Laptops and Smartphones.  Owning this information is incredibly important but no one seems to care…yet.   Despite the recent plethora of “hacking” incidents, the most notable being the Sony Pictures hack, people don’t seem to realize that this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

I have signed up to Mydex, Ghostery, Handshake, PrivacyGrade, The Respect Network and Ello and each time I get really excited because at the core they are all great tools and ideas  that promise some spec of what I am searching for.  Unfortunately so many of these services are amazing in theory but in practice just aren’t particularly practical and perpetuate the  ‘so what’ question. The biggest shortcoming of all is their lack of customer insight which is an interesting paradox considering the nature of this blog!  I wonder how much these companies are talking to their customers and welcoming feedback.  None have followed up with me, and that is odd considering most are in their beta phase and could benefit from a two way conversation with the initial all important “adopters”. People very quickly become disinterested when there is no ‘real’ additional value.

I am getting frustrated at the lack of two way conversation or relationship that I think should come as part of the package. Come on PIMS, I am willing you on!

Which leads me nicely into the new app I just downloaded – CitizenMe,  which seems to be on the right track and has a rather nice gimmicky game like element.

The top 3 benefits of CitizenMe are;

1 – It helps you manage your social network profiles by showing you what your are sharing and quick links to update your settings

2 – It profiles your personality based on your social media content and describes you as others see you

3 – It translates your terms of services and notifies you of changes which includes a traffic light summary letting you know if the changes are good or bad

This is an incredibly easy app to set up and link with your other apps and social networks.  Navigation was also incredibly intuitive and the language was easy to understand – no legalese!  What I found most interesting was my personality profile based on my Facebook content and friends ‘likes’ or comments.  It was scarily accurate, describing my preferences for social occasions better than I could myself.  It got my age very wrong but I am too flattered to care.

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The interface is really cool and the thing most people will be interested in is their personality scoring but after that I fear that the ‘so what’ question could come up again.  How often will I really open this app?  How often will I use it?  What additional value will it give to keep attracting me back, let alone the average person who doesn’t really care about their privacy?

What would make you use a PIMS?

 

 

Who knew! God wants your mobile data too

Cartoon God

So long story short I stumbled across a great site for you to check out privacy ratings called PrivacyGrade.  I actually found this through reading an article by Kim Komando highlighting the cost to our privacy when we acquire free apps.  Of course some apps need our personal information such as google maps, but what about apps like the Despicable Me game or Fruit Ninja? Why on God’s earth do they need this information?  Speaking of God… more on that later.

We all know we don’t read the terms and conditions and unless you are on iOS you can’t set your own privacy settings on a case by case basis. This is where PrivacyGrade can help and it is run by a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University who have devised a simple grading system from A+ to D.  This grading model measures the gap between our expectations of privacy behavior vs the actual behavior.

For example when you download Google Maps you know they will need access to your location data, or Gmail will need access to your contacts to make sending emails easier, you know what to expect and therefor both these apps get an A.  “It does what it says on the tin” so to speak.

In terms of the low scorers the most surprising was the #1 Holy Bible app which scored a D, the lowest grade.  This app’s permissions require full access to your network, your user accounts, your phone status and identity, can read your contacts and track your approximate location.  Not only that but you also give permissions to third parties such as Flurry, Facebook, Tapjoy, Jsoup and Oauth!  Who would have thought catching up on ‘His Word’  would require so much of your passive data.

Also concerning is the related app Bible for Kids which requires the same permissions. This was graded C which I don’t understand as the details are pretty much the same and I would have thought that our expectations would be stronger around privacy considering the target audience.  Targeted advertising to your kids anyone?

If you can’t be bothered to read the T&C’s check out the Privacy Guide