Smartphones open new opportunities for privacy invasion | Science News

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Your phone is like a spy in your pocket

Smartphones are packed with sensors that collect a lot of data on your comings and goings

By
12:00pm, January 23, 2018
smartphone illustration

OVERSHARING  Before personal devices reveal too much about what you’re up to, researchers are trying to build in user protections — or at least call attention to vulnerabilities.

Consider everything your smartphone has done for you today. Counted your steps? Deposited a check? Transcribed notes? Navigated you somewhere new?

Smartphones make for such versatile pocket assistants because they’re equipped with a suite of sensors, including some we may never think — or even know — about, sensing, for example, light, humidity, pressure and temperature.

Because smartphones have become essential companions, those sensors probably stayed close by throughout your day: the car cup holder, your desk, the dinner table and nightstand. If you’re like the vast majority of American smartphone users, the phone’s screen may have been black, but the device was probably on the whole time.

“Sensors are finding their ways into every corner of our lives,” says

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