Know What Your Mobile Company Knows About You?
Mobile phones are now an essential part of our lifestyle. From communication to internet surfing, smartphones are helping people in every aspect. While people are happy to have this little assistant in hand to manage most chores, little do they realize that they have unknowingly allowed an intruder to their private world. This little gadget that you call ‘mobile phone’ does not give you one-sided benefits. Rather it is providing more advantages to the cellular companies who abuse this device to keep an eye on you. In fact, this breach has such a massive extent that it even allows third-party services to know all about you.
As a responsible mobile phone user, you must know what kind of information you share with your network provider. Maybe, after knowing it all, you may not like your service provider log so much about you.
What Data Do Mobile Companies Track?
Every big and small cellular company collects more or less similar extent of customer data. The irony is that despite being an integral part of the tech world, these companies tend to escape the arena when it comes to privacy disclosures. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and all others have shared lengthy privacy policies on their websites. But that seems a mere action to fulfill the requirements as they never list in black and white as to what details they collect from the users, and why.
At the very least, these companies log your calls history (both incoming and outgoing) with numbers, incoming and outgoing message history with numbers, your location, and your internet activities. Regarding the online details, they behave in the same way as any other ISP, tracking your IP address, browsing history, email and web activities.
Nonetheless, they can even have much more information about you, which is seemingly never secure. A recent security lapse at Freedom Mobile – the fourth largest telecom in Canada – elaborated the scariness of the extent of tracking by cellular companies. The firm, via an unsecured database, leaked customer details that included their names, email address, dates of birth, contact numbers, IP address, physical address, customer type, as well as credit card numbers.
Besides, it is also proven that the cellular firms share call and message records with the governments when asked. It means they also have a pretty good record of your written and verbal communications as well.
What Happens To Your Information?
Although, security experts have always warned of the extent of data collection by the internet and cellular services. Yet, people pay no heed to the consequences of this activity unless they fall victim to a security breach. Though, after you know how companies use your information, you may change your perspectives.
The biggest use (rather an abuse) of your information collected by the cellular firms is its exploitation for advertisement purposes. They seamlessly sell your data to the advertising companies, who then bombard you with promotions and ads via SMS, calls, emails, or online ads. For this, they evaluate your logs to know your interests.
Besides, they may also share this information with various database firms, security agencies, or with government authorities when required. Though the latter seems a good move with regards to the security of the public, the government authorities also unnecessarily spy on you using such details. That is a shear violation of your right of privacy.
Protect Yourself From Tracking
As a customer, it is your right to have concerns about your data privacy. No one can accuse you of having these concerns, nor will anybody deem you a suspect if you question how companies handle your data. If you are not comfortable with being continuously logged (which you should be), you can take various steps to protect yourself.
One of the best ways to protect your online privacy is by using VPNs. While VPNs are usually known for protecting privacy against the ISPs, additional reading about VPNs reveals that they are equally beneficial for the smartphone users, at least, for securing their online information. You can keep them activated while using mobile data to prevent your cellular network from logging your online activities.
As regards the other information, although, VPN cannot prevent cellular firms from tracking your SMS and call history. However, you can simply switch your communication to online apps, such as WhatsApp or Skype, that allow you to communicate via texts or calls in the same way as you do with your number. With VPNs activated on your device, these calls and messages will also remain hidden from your service provider. In the long run, it also saves you from being barraged with unnecessary adverts.