Privacy Watching You HalThere’s some shocking news you need to be aware of today if you’re a cell phone user.

An investigation has revealed that your Facebook smartphone app is accessing your personal text messages.

Facebook admitted reading the text messages of smartphone users who had downloaded the social networking site’s app and said that it was accessing the data as part of a trial to launch its own messaging service.

That’s not all. ¬†Other apps are accessing your personal data too, including Flickr, Badoo, and Yahoo Messenger.

Some apps are allowing companies to intercept your phone calls, while others, like YouTube, will remotely access and operate your smartphone camera to take photographs and/or videos at any time.

Emma Draper of the Privacy International campaign group has this to say about the startling revelation: “Your personal information is a precious commodity, and companies will go to great lengths to get their hands on as much of it as possible.”

More than 400,000 apps are available in Android’s app store, and over 500,000 are available for iPhones – with all apps downloaded from Apple’s App Store covered by the same terms and conditions.

Many smartphone users don’t know that when they agree to the terms and conditions of an app, they are actually giving developers the right to inspect the personal information stored on their phones.

According to a YouGov poll, 70 percent of smartphone users rarely or never read the terms and conditions policy when they download a new app.

Daniel Rosenfield, director of a successful app business whose products are downloaded to the tune of about 5,000 per day, said the information is often requested by advertisers.

“You can sell your app but the revenue you get from selling your apps doesn’t touch the revenue you get from giving your apps away for free and just loading them with advertisements,” he said.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, says, “This research highlights the shockingly poor regulation around how our personal information can be captured through our phones.”

“Consumers are downloading seemingly innocuous apps without realizing their phone calls, location and text messages are all potentially being monitored as a result. Buried in legalese and privacy policies are incredibly broad permissions to capture our personal information and profit from it.

“Google’s name lends credibility to the Android market place, when in reality it is an unregulated wild west with hugely intrusive applications being touted as innocent games.

“The platforms where people download apps from should be taking a far tougher stance on protecting users’ privacy and are currently failing to protect consumers from rogue developers.

“The total lack of any effective regulation in this area is allowing our personal information to be harvested without our knowledge, or informed consent.

“There is no reason a simple sports game needs to be able to intercept our calls, or for Facebook to read our text messages. It is being done to maximise profits with a total disregard for privacy.

“With Google’s new privacy policy just days away, the fact so many people are granting hugely intrusive access to their phones begs the question whether people really understand what they are signing away.”

Take a look at the table below from the Daily Mail for more on this startling revelation:

Smartphone Apps Privacy Chart