Smartphone Photo Controversy Prompts Senate Inquiry

As last week closed out, the safety and security of photos stored locally on your smartphone became an issue. At first it was iPhone only however Google freely admitted that photos on an Android device (and any smartphone for that matter) are stored in such a way that apps could access them, just like they are on a computer. That’s really a fact of life more than anything.

Over the weekend we ran a story featuring a couple apps that would help you protect your photos by either hiding from the root directory or offloading them to the cloud.

More after the break

Although we vehemently feel that this is a non-issue, Senator Charles Schumer doesn’t agree and is asking the Federal Trade Commission to take a closer look at Apple and Google. To be fair Schumer should ask the FTC to look at all computer manufacturers, Apple and Microsoft as well. Again, apps or “programs” or “software” on a computer can access the photos on your computer, much in the same way apps can on a smartphone.

Google has already said they are looking into ways to require an app to ask permission before they pillage your private collection of photos.

Schumer also cited reports from last month about apps uploading entire contact lists to their servers without permission (actually permission is granted but that’s another story).

“These uses go well beyond what a reasonable user understands himself to be consenting to when he allows an app to access data on the phone for purposes of the app’s functionality,” Schumer said in his letter to the FTC.

Schumer went on to say:

“smartphone makers should be required to put in place safety measures to ensure third party applications are not able to violate a user’s personal privacy by stealing photographs or data that the user did not consciously decide to make public”.

While in our eyes this is just a fact of life in the world of computers, we can definitely expect this issue to kick up more steam with the privacy mongers. Just to reiterate, when you download or install that really cool photo indexing program on your laptop or desktop, those pictures of you kissing your wife or bathing your child are going to come up in the index.

If you move to a cloud based storage program that opts to let you upload your entire photo library to the cloud in one fell swoop, it may seem like a great idea and quite convenient but that app (or program) is going to get ALL your photos.

As for the safety of your photos on your Android device, again, try these.