My Mobile, Myself -- Paris Hilton, Identity And Loss
By Mike Masnick, Wed Feb 23 01:30:00 GMT 2005

Mobile phones have gone beyond simple communications devices. They're now something of an extra appendage. Protecting its content can be very important -- but also very difficult, as two very different stories prove.


Paris Hilton should have known the contents of her T-Mobile Sidekick were at risk. As an avid reader of TheFeature, she would have read exactly that a few months ago. The story of her "hacked" Sidekick is hard to avoid these days, with plenty of sources scolding her (and T-Mobile) for being so careless with her data. While the exact reason for the breach (security hole? social engineering? easy-to-guess password? desperate need for more publicity?) is still being determined, Paris' reliance (conscious or not) on an automated syncing system isn't that crazy.

In a completely separate story, it's revealed that many people use their mobile phones as their sole address books -- and they don't back them up. In other words, if they lose their mobile phones, many people say they'll lose their ability to contact their friends. This is the opposite problem as faced by Ms. Hilton. In her case, having that information automatically backed up means that she's losing friends in a different way -- by revealing their contact info.

In both cases, it highlights just how important the mobile phone has become, as an added part of ourselves. It's not just for communications any more, but a full storage system, complete with plenty of information about our lives -- and the lives of our friends. If that's the case, then backing it up is important, and more companies are coming out with solutions to help solve that problem. However, backing up that content also opens it up to being more easily accessed by others, possibly resulting in lost privacy (and angry celebrity friends). What needs to happen is a stronger realization that the content on our mobile phones is more than just some phone numbers we call -- but information that's important both to the owner of the phone and to those who possess the phone numbers (and text messages and other content). In other words, the focus needs to be about both backing up the content while also making sure it's secure. In the meantime, however, you're stuck knowing that hackers went to Paris, and all you got was a stinking t-shirt.