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Suggestion for Sprint: Masking My Contacts

Journeyman

Suggestion for Sprint: Masking My Contacts

Hello,

 

Please let me know if this is the type of function that an app like Lookout Mobile Security or the device manufacturers themselves would do. I'm just putting this suggestion out there because I have service with Sprint and I believe my contacts are backed up by Sprint. Or is it Google? I'm not sure how that works, but I have an android phone (if that helps).

My suggestion is to give users the ability to "mask" their contacts' information from apps that require access to the user's contacts in order to use the app. If this is already a function, PLEASE let me know how I can use it! I haven't been able to find info on this type of thing yet.

Why: There are three things that consumers want more than anything right now from a product, service, or business: 1) Saving or making them money; 2) Social, economic, and environmental responsibility; and 3) Security of their personal information. In light of truly countless data/information breaches in the last decade, the information technology industry has seen a rapidly growing demand for innovative information security everywhere, even in the communications industry. While maybe one day the laws might catch up with the times, we cannot rely on legislature alone to protect people's private information. It is WAY too slow to stop unnecessary and inefficient data insecurities from ruining lives. The burden has fallen on private industry to respond. Although I understand that there is money in sharing or selling big data (or just collecting it) and its largely unregulated nature heavily benefits businesses, it's a double edged sword that has the disastrous ability to change or ruin people's lives - including the people working for the businesses that collect the data.

There's an argument that this is not as big of a problem as it sounds unless the information is used maliciously, and it's highly unlikely given that it's not in the best interest of the business to use its clients' information against them. Let me be clear: the company doing direct business with the client is not the problem here. Sprint is not the problem. The problem is that there aren't stringent enough laws to protect my information - and my contacts' information - from apps.
Here's the experience behind this suggestion to let you know where all this came from. It's not big or complicated, but I saw it as an opportunity for the telecommunications industry to make a small change for the benefit of the consumer. If Sprint (or whoever acquires/merges with Sprint) wants to be a leader in the telecommunications industry by championing information security beyond what's required by law, it's very likely that Sprint will see a sharp increase in consumer loyalty. Just a thought. Anyway, here's the event that got me thinking about all this: A family member moved to another country for work. Plenty of free messaging/calling service apps exist. Google already has all my contacts' information, so I prefer using Hangouts. Because this person doesn't have a Google account, she prefers to use WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) for messaging. I have not used Facebook ever since the incident with Cambridge Analytica, so I already didn't want to download it. I figured it'll be fine, I just won't include my real name and only enter this family member's contact information since they already have it. After downloading the app, I began creating a log in, which is when WhatsApp asked for permission to access my phone's address book. I thought, "No you may not, you Shady McSketch," and declined. The app then stated that I would need to give it access to my address book in order to create a log in. As you can imagine, I was more than unhappy.

I could go to WhatsApp and complain, but what they're doing isn't illegal (yet) and it's not the only app out there that does this, so I doubt they'd care. I could also go to my service provider and make a suggestion for a possible resolution to the problem of unnecessary information sharing. Apps are going to continue requesting access to address books, but is there a way to create a setting that the user can select which individual contacts they want to “mask” information for? I know that Sprint is technically in the telecommunications industry, but there's so much more that phones do now than they ever did before. Cell phones hold our entire lives on them. Sprint is so much more than telecommunications now. Again, I'm not sure if this is something that Sprint would develop a solution for or if it should go to another entity like Android, the device manufacturer, or a security app developer. If not Sprint, please direct me to the proper channel. Thank you!

1 REPLY 1
Sprint Social Care S.M.A.R.T. Agent

Re: Suggestion for Sprint: Masking My Contacts

Hi there. To get to the point right up top, this isn't something that Sprint would have a hand in. Your phone is using the Sprint network, but pretty much everything else relating to the phone falls into the hands of the Android OS, your phone's manufacturer, and the creator of any 3rd party apps you are using.

In the example you provided, before the WhatsApp app could gain access to your contacts, it has to get your permission. This is a built in feature from the Android OS that helps make sure you are in control of exactly what access your 3rd party apps can gain on your phone. This access can cover your Contacts, Camera, and a host of other options. 

If you would like some additional info on Lookout Mobile Security, you can click this link right here. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions. 

 



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