By RJ Bardsley
There should be a class on how to manage your personal data footprint. It should teach people how much data different companies collect on them, how long they keep it, how they share it and what they do with it. This class should be taught in junior high school and high school and it should be mandatory. I think the Ted Talk video above should be required viewing for the class.
The class should start with utilities – specifically Phone Companies. Credit card companies, social networks, social games and web providers can come in subsequent chapters of the class, but mobile phone companies should be the first lesson, because it’s something we use constantly from our mid-teens on.
Here’s an overview of what information cell phone companies capture and keep about you, personally (for more details, see this document from the ACLU):
- All of your subscriber information
- Call detail records
- Location by cell phone tower
- Details on your text messages
- Content of your text messages
- Your pictures
- IP session information
- IP destinations
It’s helpful for you that this information is stored – after all what if you need to find a stolen/lost phone or what if you’re interested in recalling a conversation you had in a text message. Usage patterns also help you determine how much data you need and what calling plans are the best fit for you. This information is also helpful to the police – and it’s easy for them to obtain it; they often don’t even need a search warrant. But the thing is this information is collected continuously whether you like it or not. You don’t really have a choice in the matter. You want to briefly suspend cell phone surveillance? Take the battery out of your device (sorry iPhone users).