When recently the chamber of deputies approved a law that would allow security forces to use phone tapping to fight crime and for other security purposes, some people expressed worries about whether this might not lead to invasion of privacy.
Such worries are rather baseless. Most countries have regulations to allow for example the police to engage in phone tapping, but there are always strict procedures to follow, among which a justification for the measure to be approved by magistrates. So there is no reason to fear that any Tom, Dick or Harry in the police force can now start listening in on our phone conversations, especially not if you stay on the right side of the law.
What is more, such worries stand in stark contrast to the carelessness many people show regarding private information when it comes to internet and social media. On Facebook, for instance, some people want to have as many "friends" as possible, many of whom to hardly even now, and then they go ahead and share all kinds of private stuff. They share everything about themselves: people know the names and have seen the pictures of their families and friends, where they live, where they plan to go tomorrow, what expensive equipment they own.
The classic example is that of a person who publishes his home address on his personal information page in Facebook, and then when he is on a holiday shares experiences and pictures with his "friends;" when he gets back home, he of course finds his house burgled.
What is more, with our increased online presence through mobile and smartphones, we unwittingly expose more of who we are and we are doing than we might want. It is not surprising that with all these apps being developed for smartphones, this industry has also a dark corner.
You suspect your boy- or girlfriend of cheating, and want to catch them? There's an app for that. It's called iCaughtU Pro (for iPhone) and it can of course not be found in the official App Store, but in Cydia - the black market version of the store.
Without your consent, anyone can very quickly install this spying app on your jailbroken iPhone and start using it against you. Once installed, the app goes and sits somewhere in the settings of the iPhone - an area which many people rarely look at. Whenever you type a wrong passcode, which is very common, the iPhone will secretly activate its FaceTime camera to take your picture. It will also record time, your exact location on a map, and then send everything to the snooper's email immediately. You won't notice anything, yet your stalker might now have compromising information on you. Great not only for catching cheaters or for stalking, but also blackmail.
The lottery in which you never participated but in which you won the big prize, if only you could give them your bank account number? People are still falling for it.
Regardless of the model and operating system, there are several apps available that allow the user of a smartphone to turn on the camera, microphone and GPS in another person's handset without them knowing about it.
In addition, people also often do not realize that their phone contains a wealth of personal information (or at least gives access to it), which could be exploited to their harm if their phone falls in the wrong hands.
On the Internet too, people are often too careless. The lottery in which you never participated but in which you won the big prize, if only you could give them your bank account number? People are still falling for it. As they do for the numerous "Nigerian princes," "aggrieved widows" or "terminally ill people" who want to share their money with you.
Then there are the spam message that contain a link that seems genuine and which directs you to a cleverly disguised website, but in reality without your knowledge software is being installed on your computer that gives hackers remote access to the machine - either to look for personal information or for other purposes.
Yet all those invasions of your privacy, or in the worst case identity theft, can be prevented with some simple measures. Here are a few of them:
Lock your smartphone with a passcode and don't ever give it to anybody you don't know very well;
Tighten your social network privacy settings, so that you can control who of your "friends" has access to what information;
Install Internet Security software on your computer, and update it regularly.
And don't worry about the police tapping your phone; they won't, unless you give them good reason to do so.
Copyright © 2012 Rwanda Focus. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.
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