Big Brother or Little Secretary?

May 16th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

vereyezonI had to replace a cell phone recently and can’t figure out whether a Verizon feature is a blessing, threat or both. The backup assistant knew and repopulated my address book.

Honestly, I’m tech savvy and the alpha geek for friends. I just hadn’t thought about where the names and phone numbers¬†actually¬†store. I assumed that as the entry is local on the handset and that it displays messages like Contact Saved without indicating that it transmits the data that everything was in local memory.

I sort of dreaded reconstructing my contacts, which I had not duplicated on one of my computers. The last time I reconstructed a list, I was switching carriers and found it inconvenient. It meant opening the dead phone and individually duplicating the contact info. That did give me the incentive to change my speed-dial order and such. Yet, it was the tedious, error-prone clerical work that we have come to resent with current technologies. Like so many of amid electronic tools and gadgets, I want convenience…but on my terms.

So this morning when I set up the replacement phone, I noticed a mention in the activation guide (all of two, half-filled 5.5×8.5 pages per language) of the contact transfer function. Sure enough, with a few key stabs and maybe 20 seconds download, I got the contact-transfer app. A similar easy and fast process brought over the entire old address book. I scanned that it is a mirror, as promised.

So now I know that what I put in phone memory is also in Verizon’s corporate realm. I don’t know whether they can, would or do access it, or a paranoid’s delight, share it was Homeland Security or who knows what dark forces. Why should I have ever thought otherwise? Is there something in those multi-page agreements and privacy notices that would have let me know?

Honestly and perhaps too trustingly, I didn’t care this morning. They did the work for me and that seems a decent trade-off. Maybe I’ll reconsider, but meanwhile my new sneaky digital assistant was OK.

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