What The Manufacturers Don’t Want You To Know

Inevitably, every manufacturer has secrets. Whether it’s subliminal advertising, catch phrases, how they get it from the factory to the shelf and more. Many times, secrets about the manufacturer and/or their product remain hidden for a long period of time and consumers continue to buy their product. With cell phones, this statement is a bit different.

Various truths about cell phones had surfaced years ago and many, if not all, cell phone consumers still upgrade to the newest cell phones or start plans with numerous carriers. It’s difficult NOT to do, seeing as it seems rare to end up in someone’s home that still has a landline that’s used for other things than business. What’s more is that with the convenience and instant gratification that technology provides to users, everyone has a cell phone because, no matter what’s going on around cell phone users, they need to communicate

iStock_000054240190_SmallContract vs. No-Contract

Even with all of the new features an iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S5, many could find it difficult to argue that it isn’t an expensive product even when starting a 2-year contract. The majority of cell phone carriers market their mobile phones as being locked onto one specific carrier…them. The big reason behind this is profits. Companies want their consumers to enjoy the product they receive to the point that the consumer pays hundreds of dollars a month for the ability to call/communicate with others. How do they do this? Besides a clever marketing or advertising scheme, they sell consumers’ subsidized phones for much more than the company actually paid for it.

Being Tracked From A Smartphone

With how often we use our cell phones, regardless of the ‘why’, chances are we don’t leave our homes without them. The problem with always having our cell phones with us is that cell phones rely on cell towers and cell towers allow your service provider to triangulate your position within a few hundred yards. As stated by Jennifer Granick, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, “Wherever you carry your phone, the government can go to your wireless provider and use those records to figure out where you are.”

This may seem invasive but could also save lives. Using the ability to track people via cell phones has assisted in locating kidnap victims and people stranded in the wilderness. Unfortunately, given its positives, law enforcement has also used the technology to track citizens without probable cause. According to documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the state of New Jersey gathered a cell phone subscriber’s information 79 times between 2002 and 2008 without seeking a warrant.

Data Stream Taps By NSA

In 2005, the New York Times reported that the NSA had engaged in domestic digital surveillance without U.S. court approval. 1 month later, in January 2006, former AT&T technician Mark Klein provided documents to the Electronic Frontier Foundation confirming that the NSA installed surveillance equipment at an Internet hub in San Francisco.

Jennifer Granick states “What people don’t know and should is that there is a dragnet sucking up all their communications so the government can review them. AT&T is still routing all of its data traffic through the NSA.” In 2006 and also 2008, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed suit against AT&T and the federal government for warrantless wiretapping. However, in July 2008, Congress passed a bill granting retroactive immunity to telecoms for their participation in the NSA’s wiretaps.

Google Maps navigation on Apple iPhoneGeolocation Data

Similar to how Google pays attention to individual’s search habits in order to make search results more relevant to each user, marketers look to build profiles based on your online habits in order to advertise and sell location-based services.

Cell phone carriers maintain CPNI (Customer Proprietary Network Information). A CPNI can contain details about rate plans, ingoing/outgoing calls and even your location. Though, by law, carriers can’t sell CPNI without user permission, how they obtain this information can prove to be questionable. Usually carriers will contact the user via email or letter and provide the opportunity for the user to ‘opt out’ of this option. However, if a response isn’t given, the carrier is free to sell your CPNI to whomever they wish.

Not that carriers would sell CPNI to just ANYONE. However, this information could be sold to marketers of restaurants, stores and other businesses near your location. An example of a scenario such as this would be when you walk by a specific store and you receive a text message or an email offering you a discount at that store if you go back and shop there right then. The best way to handle this is to tell your carrier not to share your CPNI.