Auto Upload A Privacy Risk?
Steve Chan a student at SIMS (Berkeley, School of Information Management),
which is the same program where Erick and I attended, recently lost his Nokia 7610 in Korea while on vacation. The interesting thing is that the newer version of the research Erick and I did was installed on the phone. Why is this so interesting?
Well, Garage Cinema Research
is a group looking to explore automated capture of metadata. Mobile Media Metadata
does it on Camera Phones. The software that was installed (MMM2) has an automatic upload function. So... someone has been using the phone and taking pictures of themselves... And we now have the pictures.Mary Hodder, posted them here
and has raised quite a few questions about privacy. They appear to be young girls, most likely under the age of 18. Should we be posting these pictures to find out who has the phone?
I on the other hand, am not so concerned with that question, but more the fundamental question that auto-uploading causes. Should content be transferred to another location without an active confirmation by the user? In some camera phone studies I did over the summer, one user told me that they were confused by Sprint's autosync mechanism. They understood when they sent their photos to the desktop, but sometimes, they reported that they would "just appear".
The flip side, is that for phone recovery purposes, crime protection, and phone storage limitations (not to mention general back up), this is actually a very good idea. Imagine if you witnessed a crime, took photos, somehow lost the phone or had it stolen. That evidence is still preserved. Or your memory is full, simply delete your photos and you already have them in an account somewhere.
The age privacy question that this incident sparks, however, is a rather interesting one. If the phone then falls into the hands of a minor... that content is no longer private. Even broader, it automatically ties the handset to a specific wired user account. Is that necessarily good?