Millions of us are unwittingly signing away our rights to privacy when we upgrade to flashy new mobile phones, warn campaigners.
The latest handsets are so advanced they can reveal the location of the owner to within a few yards – along with their internet shopping habits, their interests and the names and addresses of their friends.
Although phone providers are not supposed to pass on this ‘Big Brother’ data without permission, a ‘worryingly large number’ of people give consent for the information to be sold to marketing companies, campaigners say.
Simon Davies, of human rights group Privacy International, said the danger came when customers signed up to contracts or downloaded new mobile phone applications without reading the small print.
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One of the most potentially intrusive applications is Google Latitude, which lets mobile phone owners ‘share’ their location with anyone in the world.
Mr Davies added that the risks of such snooping software on these ‘smart phones’ were far more sinister than Google’s controversial-Street View service.
‘People are giving consent for mobile phone companies to pass on this information without realising the consequences,’ he said.
‘Ninety per cent are mesmerised by the shiny new phone and don’t understand the implications of signing away rights they would normally have under the Data Protection Act.