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NYers seeing loss of privacy as cost of using new gadgets


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Your smartphone knows where you are and where you've been, and that deeply personal data is transmitted to a server, something many users didn’t quite realize until last week.

And you know what? Many of us don’t seem to care.

Unlike earlier tech-privacy flaps surrounding Facebook and Google, the news that iPhones and cellular iPads collect location data around-the-clock has been greeted with something of a collective shrug.

The reaction among users and tech experts alike suggest that smartphone users increasingly accept a loss of privacy as a cost of using these life-enhancing devices, and that privacy “on the grid” has become all but impossible.

"There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in the 21st century," said Shelly Palmer, a tech expert and host of NBC's "Live Digital with Shelly Palmer." "If you want location-based apps, then you're gonna have to have location-based information in a database."

Some New Yorkers agree.

"I understand for most of the apps to work they need the GPS location," said Nathan Snyder, a 26-year-old New Yorker. "It's not like I have anything scandalous."

Google said its data collection is "opt-in" and that any data sent back to Google is "anonymized." Apple’s Steve Jobs clouded the issue yesterday when he responded to a MacRumors forums user’s concerns by saying: “We don’t track anyone. The info circulating around is false." Reports of the furtive data collection was confirmed by The Wall Street Journal.

But privacy advocates warn that although consumers often consent to this type of data collection by accepting companies' terms of service, users shouldn't have to choose between new tech and data protection.

"Using a smartphone and new technology is a part of living in the modern world, and … people shouldn't have to choose between using smartphones and keeping control of their own information," said Nicole Orez of the American Civil Liberties Union.

To be sure, Apple’s privacy policy is seeing pushback. Two Floridians are suing Apple over the data collection, and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has called for a Senate subcommittee hearing to examine the tracking.

Sharon Goott Nissim of the Electronic Privacy Information Center said it's "surprising and disappointing" that Apple is tracking and storing the data.

"It shouldn't be up to consumers to figure out, 'Oh, is this what Apple's vague privacy policy means?' " she said. "I don't think the burden should be on people to figure out what Apple can do under [the terms of service] … the burden should be on Apple, not on the user, to protect privacy."

Alana Wison, 20, of midtown, sees the data collection as "creepy."

"We did well without it in the past, we don't need it now."

(with Shawniquica Henry)


Social media and new technology aren't the only ways we give up our location and private information.

MetroCard: Every time you swipe into a subway station, your card gives away your location.

E-ZPass: Tied to your car, it logs your location every time it's used at a toll.

Security cameras: You can’t hide from security cameras constantly recording you in more public places than you can imagine.

Credit cards: Some customers don't realize that some credit card companies profile consumers based on what they spend and where they spend, and those records can be obtained by law enforcement.


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