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Do Smartphones Need a “Do Not Track Me” Option?

Privacy was one of the top consumer concerns of 2010, and based on a new investigation by The Wall Street Journalsmartphone tracking looks to be an even bigger concern in 2011.

Smartphones, through their apps, are intentionally leaking mounds of private data. In essence, the data being leaked can go as far as including your geographic location, like a spy watching your every move, GPS-style. The leaked data may also include the unique phone ID as well as information such as gender, age and more.

Naturally this has privacy advocates and consumers very upset. Some are calling for a "Do Not Track Me" option. Mediapost.com reports that The Federal Trade Commission has called for a "Do Not Track Me Mechanism" allowing users of the web to opt out of being tracked. This is similar in concept to the national do not call registry, although obviously it would be far more complex. In addition, the Obama administration is proposing a "Privacy Policy Office" and a "privacy bill of rights."

In light of The Wall Street Journal report, the Mobile Marketing Association has announced that it will develop a new set of privacy guidelines complementing the MMA's existing Global Code of Conduct covering SMS, MMS, email, voice, applications, mobile Internet, content and location-based services.

In the meantime, unless consumers are willing to forgo smartphones completely, there isn't much that individual consumers can do to protect themselves. Nevertheless, it is always advisable to take normal precautions such as using secure connections, strong passwords and being careful about which apps you download.

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