One could easily speculate that when a person put information on his/her cellphone, the expectation and desire is that the data is safe and secure for unwanted eyes. However, there is a lyric from a famous song that goes you can’t always get what you want and that applies to many things in our lives.  While many may think that everyone wants data on cellphones to be private, those individuals would be shocked to know that, depending on the situation, many persons would want that privacy to be taken away.

Everything has its good points and bad points depending on which perspective you wish to view. Naturally, one needs facts or reasons before committing to which side to choose; therefore, let us examine why privacy can be a good thing or a terrible thing when it comes to cellphones.

What’s the big deal with privacy?

When an individual has information/data on their mobile device, the goal is to keep the unwanted from peering in but to share information with those you want.  Sounds basic though not everyone can grasp the same ideas or concepts that your average or above user can. 

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Take my parents who are elderly and while some of their friends can use technology, turning on a light switch and the TV is enough for them. Oh, they can make a call on their cell phones that are extremely dated; however, anything like deleting messages or how to send a text message is beyond their patience to learn.

So, I will not use them as examples regarding privacy with cell phones. So, having an understanding that not everyone is on the same learning curve, let us look at why privacy on cell phones is a positive thing.

One way to look at this is looking at how Apple and Android handle their Operating Systems when it comes to privacy.  Android’s latest Operating System is known as Nougat and offers users the availability to access multiple vendors to purchase games or apps on their mobile devices that run this operating system.  Looking at Apple’s latest Operating System is known as iOS 10.3.2 and offers users access to vendors to purchase games and apps as well. 

The difference is iOS is more restrictive on the vendors then Android which means their users have more freedom to access outside sources to acquire file and data unattainable by iOS users. Yet, Android users are more susceptible to viruses or stolen data than iOS users because of the privacy factor Apple uses in selecting what apps can be used. 

Obviously, one part of Apple’s success has been their users appreciate the level of privacy they have that protects them in ways Android can’t; however, when does the privacy factor become a problem that would cause others to cry foul?

Is access to private information really needed?

Now why would anyone think privacy on cell phones is a dreadful thing? While I can cite lots of examples to support this premise, how about I use three words and see where that takes us; San Bernardino Shooting. Anyone who is unfamiliar with what happened, 14 individuals were murdered while 22 others ended up seriously wounded when a married couple descended on the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, to commit a terrorist attack; this consisted of an attempted bombing and mass shooting. 

When the time came for the FBI to try and get into an iPhone owned by one of the terrorists to retrieve data, Apple refused to help get the data because of privacy laws. Also, the company felt that once they build software to access one iPhone, every customers privacy comes under attack and that is something Apple strongly believes in.

Many were outraged, including the government, that a criminal’s privacy should be protected especially if the iPhone contained vital information the government can use. On the other hand, others supported Apple’s decision because the risk was high that if law enforcement could successfully get around the privacy settings for one iPhone, then no iPhone users privacy would be safe; especially if hackers were able to possess that knowledge. 

Final Thoughts

There you have it ladies and gentlemen. Take the term Privacy, apply it to which ever cell phone one owns and then you have the makings for an interesting and stimulating discussion. Sure, having privacy on a cell phone is extremely important if individuals do not want their information and data available for the world to see.  Be aware, however, this function can limit what comes in and out of your cell phone and some dislike being restricted. 

Looking at it from a law enforcement standpoint, how can intelligence/evidence be collected if cell phone privacy becomes a hindrance? Everything depends on your point of view and sooner or later, most likely sooner, this question will have to be answered the way society is changing. So, which side are you on?

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