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Expert panel weighs trade-off between smart phones' convenience and privacy

Consumer Reports News

"How do we make the most of this amazing device and do it in safe, sustainable manner going forward?" asked Sree Sreenivasan (Chief Digital Officer at Columbia University and faculty member of Columbia's School of Journalism), who moderated a panel discussion hosted by Consumer Reports at Columbia University last night: "Consumer Trade-offs in a Mobile Culture: Privacy, Payments and Social Media."

The question summed up the challenge that consumers face as they are drawn, in growing numbers, to the power and convenience of smart phones and tablets. The discussion by a panel of industry experts and consumer advocates followed the release yesterday of Consumer Reports' "Keep your phone safe" story.

For many more online security tips, visit our Guide to Internet Security.

The wide-ranging discussion touched on such concerns as consumers' tendency to favor convenience over security and privacy; the need for consumers to be better informed about which of their personal information wireless providers, app makers, and others collect and how it's used; and how much of the burden of protecting their privacy consumers should or shouldn't have to bear. Panelists and Consumer Reports experts also answered questions posed by the audience, both those in person as well as those following along online via Twitter (#CRPrivacy)

In one telling moment of truth (see video highlights), attendees were forced to confront their own uneasiness about giving up control of their smart phone—even temporarily—when Mick de Meijer (Mobile Account Director at mobile marketer MXM Mobile) asked each of them to hand over their precious device to the audience member sitting to their left.

We will be posting more video highlights from the event shortly. A YouTube video of the entire event is below.

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