Wednesday 24 May 2017 News Updated at 11:05 AM IST
Custom Search
Protect your privacy as apps harvest data - Deccan Herald
Protect your privacy as apps harvest data
Brian X Chen, International New York Times,
More... A A
Read privacy policies

In the real world, your personal life is a private space. But in tech, your personal data is a ripe resource for businesses to harvest in their own interests. That was the broad takeaway from the recent New York Times profile on Uber, the car-summoning service, and its chief executive, Travis Kalanick.

Among other revelations, the report illuminated that to stay competitive, Uber bought information about its main US ride-hailing competitor, Lyft, from, a free email digest service. How did get data about Lyft? While people could use the service free of charge to unsubscribe from marketing emails, made money by scanning the contents of its users’ inboxes and selling anonymised data, information that did not have individuals’ names attached to it (in this case, emailed Lyft receipts), to other companies, including marketers.

Many consumers found’s practices misleading. In addition, Uber was involved in some deception of its own: It participated in fingerprinting, a process in which iPhones were tagged with permanent identities that were detectable even after the Uber app was erased from the devices. The practice violated Apple’s terms of service, which could have resulted in Uber’s being banned from the App Store. Uber eventually revised the app to remove the fingerprinting code.

When it comes to data collection, services like and Uber are small fry compared with Internet giants like Google and Facebook, which have a wealth of information about people. And then there are large data brokers like Acxiom, CoreLogic, Datalogix and ID Analytics, which collect, analyse and sell billions of details about consumers’ online activities for marketing purposes. For consumers, giving up some data has become part of the trade-off of receiving compelling, personalised services. But that doesn’t mean you have to be caught by surprise.

Here are some tips from privacy experts on protecting yourself from tricky data collection: