Data harvesting, personal privacy

‘More than 600 apps had access to my iPhone data’

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While Facebook desperately tightens controls over how third parties access its users’ data – trying to mend its damaged reputation – attention is focusing on the wider issue of data harvesting and the threat it poses to our personal privacy.
Data harvesting is a multibillion dollar industry and the sobering truth is that you many never know just how much data companies hold about you, or how to delete it.
That’s the startling conclusion drawn by some privacy campaigners and technology companies.

“Thousands of companies are in the business of harvesting your data and tracking your online behaviour,” says Frederike Kaltheuner, data programme lead for lobby group Privacy International.
“It’s a global business. And not just online, but offline, too, via loyalty cards and wi-fi tracking of your mobile. It’s almost impossible to know what’s happening to your data.”
The really big data brokers – firms such as Acxiom, Experian, Quantium, Corelogic, eBureau, ID Analytics – can hold as many as 3,000 data points on every consumer, says the US Federal Trade Commission.
Ms Kaltheuner says more than 600 apps have had access to her iPhone data over the last six years. So she’s taken on the onerous task of finding out exactly what these apps know about her.
“It could take a year,” she says, because it involves poring over every privacy policy then contacting the app provider to ask them. And not taking “no” for an answer.
Not only is it difficult to know what data is out there, it is also difficult to know how accurate it is. -BBC

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