Following up on this report from Symantec, 3M completed a study of cell phone visual privacy breaches. The study of 1,000 adults found, among others:

  • That 1 out of 50 people glance at a stranger’s smartphone screen “all the time,” and 25% of people notices someone sneaking a peek;
  • The most annoying stranger is the loud cell phone talker, as opposed to the snooper; and
  • Facebook and Twitter pages were most likely to be view by a neighbor, followed by emails and photos.

I’m not sure that Twitter is all that important to keep private, but I know there are some things on my Facebook page I don’t want shared with the world. That said, I’m always of the belief that if you don’t want it in the public sphere, you’d better not put it in the public sphere.

What the study does show is that there are a large number of people checking out your confidential information. As a lawyer, it’s important to keep client information secure when you’re using a mobile device. That includes setting passwords on your device, not holding confidential conversations in public places, and installing apps to remove your information from the device if it’s lost.


Jeff Taylor

I'm just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I'm also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.


nancy railing · December 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Do you have any information on the most substantial privacy breach, which is the use of the lawyer’s information (including any attorney/client privileged information) by google and other apps. To use an android device, you must swallow google’s privacy policy, which is that google (and likely, vendors in its food chain) gets everything you write or view or do using the device, to use for Google’s own business purposes … whatever that may be. ‘
On my android HTC phone, for example, I no longer am infected by the problematic “Carrier ID” application, but it is impossible to delete certain google apps or prevent them from running, such as Flikr, YouTube, Google PlayStore, “Stocks,” “Amazon MP3,” “Peep, and others that reboot without my consent. When they are running, they have access to virtually everything occurring to the device. I don’t see how an attorney’s use of an android device for work-related activity can be anything other than a breach of the attorney’s obligations of confidentiality owed to the client. Do you see a way to get to a different outcome?

    Jeffrey Taylor · December 6, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Nancy, great question. I’m going to address it more fully in an upcoming post because I think it’s worth exploring. Could you please provide me with the “security breach” you’re talking about? Are you talking about the newest privacy policy and terms of service from Google?

      nancy railing · December 6, 2012 at 6:22 pm

      It’s not breach of security, but breach of privacy about which I ask. And yes, under google’s current privacy policy and terms of service. I can choose for myself to let my privacy go, but have an obligation to preserve confidentiality of certain client data.

George Jansch · September 18, 2014 at 1:02 am

Letting your privacy go? How far are you willing to let it go? Samsung/Google tablet/phone: read what is stated about the apps in the settings. Eg: Chrome. Can: take pictures, can record audio, can access and delete items on the memory card, can track your location, etc., etc. , all without notification. $700 for phone, $400 for tablet – a lot of money to shell out for a gross invasion of privacy. Encryption? You’re using their encryption system. They used to call it spyware. And your copy writeable material is safe? I sincerely hope it is.

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