Giving up the smartphone and the future of online security

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Droid Eris meets pavement

Apparently there is a trend lately of people giving up their smartphones. I can certainly understand why people want to: they are tired of being accessible 24/7 and want some distance, some privacy. For some users, addiction is a real issue. Many people feel tied to their phones and want to cut the cord, so to speak. And, many people are fed up with their data being harvested.

There are those who say giving up your smartphone can make you happier, break your online addiction, and make you feel more self-reliant than being constantly plugged in.

Consumers are pushing back against what has widely become the norm and expressing their distaste for what many consider to be an invasion of privacy (on multiple levels). Will it bring more people to pen and paper? Maybe, maybe not. I hope so.

Of course there is the counterargument that giving up your smartphone does not make your life simpler, but actually more complicated because you would have to use separate devices for communications, photos, and entertainment. However I would argue the author of this article is confusing simplicity with convenience. Yes it is convenient to have everything on one handheld device. But the price of convenience is insecurity.

This article from last year hits on several points that have since come around in reality. Online security is indeed more fragile. Recent large hacks on websites including banks, email providers, and LinkedIn show that our online lives are much more open to theft than our offline lives.

This is particularly disturbing when you realize that data harvesting is becoming more commonplace. For example, there are digital billboards that take photos of your car and data from your smartphone as you approach. You are then tracked to see if you purchase that or a related item later. Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871 said, “You think of it as a phone, we think of it as a digital tracker.” Advertisers claim these types of digital ads will be more convenient to the consumer. But at what cost to privacy?

So what is the future for online communications and services? Currently, as internet security threats escalate, so do the attempts to thwart those threats. And as more and more items are added to the Internet Of Things (like internet-connected washing machines and even devices that can give you medical advice), opportunities for security breaches become more prolific. So the race is on to find ways to make our data and communications more secure.

But I wonder: when we’ve made our private lives very public, is there a way to make them private again when all of our data is out there to be captured?

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