If you have a tablet, smartphone or PC (and if you don’t, I’m not sure why you’re reading this unless you’re planning to buy one – I suppose it must be my divine writing and the occasional joke) then you’ve almost certainly had it do (or try to do) updates to various things.
Updates to Windows on a PC, updates to Android or iOS on a phone or tablet and updates to umpteen apps on pretty much anything.
Most of the time it just happens and you might not even notice it happening apart from a small line saying “Such and such was updated successfully”
But sometimes it will ask you for permission before it updates. And you might wonder why it sometimes asks for permission and other times doesn’t – does this mean it’s somehow going wrong when it doesn’t ask, or sneaking something past you?
No – it depends on how your device is set up and what kind of update it is.
For example, on most PCs (or laptops), it’ll do most updates without asking for permission. Even when it does ask, it’s usually only asking “Shall I do it now” – usually because it’s a big update that’ll take a while, so if you need to use the computer right now, you might want to say “Don’t do it until later”.
On a phone or tablet, on the other hand, it’s different.
Each app has a set of permissions – things it’s allowed to do. For example a camera app is going to need to be able to use the camera in the device (obviously!) – so it’ll need “permission” to use it. A game might not need permission for that, on the other hand.
But sometimes over time, the developers will add features to an app that mean it needs permissions it didn’t need before. For example if the games add the facility to have your photo next to your high score – then it might need permission to use the camera so you can take the photo.
And at that point, the update that has that new feature in won’t automatically happen – it’ll wait for you to agree to it, because it’s allowing it to do something it wasn’t allowed to do before.
Usually, that’s fine and you can just tap “Yes” or “OK” or whatever it is. But it is worth quickly reading what extra permissions you’re giving it first and make sure you’re happy with that – it can be hard to tell but if it’s an app you’re in two minds about anyway and it’s asking for a permission that you don’t think it should need, you might want to say “no”.
Privacy and the papers and TV
It’s not just me – privacy is big news. And you see articles in the papers or reports on the news on TV about it, though they don’t always use the word “Privacy”. Sometimes they’ll talk about “Data security” or “Keeping personal data safe” or whatever.
The problem is they often aren’t very accurate in what they say. Sometimes they completely miss the point… and sometimes they’re partly right, but get one crucial bit wrong, which can sometimes mean the advice they give or the conclusion they come to is exactly the opposite of what it should be.
In a way, I’m not surprised – it can be complicated stuff and finding out what really happens can be hard – some of it isn’t just written down in an easy to find place. As we found while researching the book, sometimes you have to do quite a bit of digging to find out the truth.
Of course, I could suggest that some journalists might have a reason to give out a message about it that’s not quite the truth – there are certainly organisations who might not want everyone to understand it. But in truth, I think it’s just a combination of journalists not understanding it properly and rushing through it without doing the proper research first, just listening to what they heard from one person.
It’s one of the reasons I so wanted the privacy book myself – I wanted to know what was going on so I understood it and knew what I should do personally.
Anyway, we have done the research, so if you want to know a bit more about it all, have a read here. You’ll find out what the book covers, why you should bother and so on – but you’ll actually learn quite a bit about privacy just by reading the information here, even without ordering the book. Though once you know what happens, I think you’ll want the book to make sure you know how to keep yourself safe. Up to you though.
As I say, you can read more here.