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Is Your Mobile Phone Transmitting Your Private Information to Corporations?

Our mobile phones and computers are storing and sharing more and more personal information--but do we have control over who sees it?

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It can be hard to tell the difference between Luddite-style concern about social media depersonalizing us, changing us into button-clicking automatons, and genuine worries about corporate control of our private information. As writers like Douglas Rushkoff and Deanna Zandt have noted, the 'net is biased toward sharing—our stories, our creations, our lives.

Corporations, on the other hand, are interested only in making money. If users distrust a service or a device, that may harm profits, and so Apple and others have attempted to fix breaches of trust when they do occur—even while joining efforts to keep government regulation of their activities to a minimum.

Conley notes that the ACLU doesn't want users to have to choose between taking advantage of social networking and mobile phone technology and keeping their information private. Instead, they and others are pushing for more transparency from the companies that collect, transmit, and sometimes sell user information.

But it looks like the Internet and social media behemoths are, at least for now, committed to fighting legislative efforts to regulate them. It remains to be seen whether they will respond to consumer pressure and provide more transparency.

Sarah Jaffe is a contributor to AlterNet and a freelance writer.