Privacy Issues. NSA, Samsung, Jay-Z

post11More than likely if you are reading this you are aware of the recent debate over online privacy and what is being shared with companies and even the government with the recent NSA scandals. I’ve been meaning to share my point of view for some time on this but decided it was fairly trivial. As an individual I accept the fact that if I use a machine that is connected to a data source, I understand data will be saved and collected. Others for some reason are naive to believe that data isn’t being collected on them when online and they hoot, holler, and complain about the situation. Either way. It’s a choice that must be accepted.

What led me to share my thoughts on online privacy concerns though is the recent controversy on the partnership between Samsung Mobile and Jay-Z to provide 1 million downloads of his new Magna Carta album if they download a special application on their Samsung phone by July 4. Well that day has come and gone and now some of those that wanted to download are balking and bickering over the fact that why does Jay-Z need so much information prior to downloading the music? Case in point is rapper “Killer Mike” who tweeted:

First of all, I am not an avid follower of Killer Mike, but based on his follower base (70K current followers) Killer Mike doesn’t appear to be a heavy hitter in the space, though I may be wrong. In either case, based on what the interweb has used this tweet and other conversation that has appeared online, there is this paranoia that Jay-Z and Samsung is basically as Gawker headlines: “…a massive data mining operation” and even consideration to NSA type data collection.

Are you seriously kidding me?

Has anyone considered that fact that when you install an application on your phone there are basic areas of the phone that an app needs to access in order to function correctly? Of course there are additional areas that help for future development as well in order to provide the best experience. Next time anyone downloads a free game from Android Marketplace, pay close attention to what areas of your phone you are giving access to because in exchange for not paying anything for the app (free) you are giving up certain data.

This isn’t an uncommon thing people! Which leads me to the topic of free.

When this deal was announced and a “free” label was attributed to a “condition(s)” (1. need a Samsung phone 2. Need Android 3. Need an Application to download) how can someone honestly believe their isn’t a marketing spin to this above and beyond the ‘buzz’ that this was getting. Let’s break this down:

  1. Storage– The music needs to be stored somewhere, so the app needs access to this in order to download it to the phone.
  2. System Tools– The description on this can scare someone but it’s not uncommon to get access to this in order to have certain functions of the app run better.
  3. Your location– Depending on how the app functions, this could be a experience benefit or it could flat out data for marketing geo-targeted efforts.
  4. Network Communications– Another area of an app that will determine if I am connected to phone data or WiFi. Not uncommon for music apps.
  5. Phone Calls– Has anyone heard of Ringtones? Though this could scare a sceptic.

So let’s please stop complaining that this is a privacy scandal and a massive data mining operation. In the day and age of big data, this will be the standard that we must make a decision to accept or not. If a business transaction takes place (free product, service, transaction, etc.) happens, data will be collected. The extent of what data will be collected and for what reason needs to be clearly identified. Businesses need to understand that the customer will demand more clarification before they accept ANY data transfer.

If not, a free gold nugget will turn into a rusted bucket fast.

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