Phone apps help themselves to our contacts, Google tracks our web history, and supermarkets monitor our buying habits. Can anything stop the great data grab?

This article titled “The end of online privacy?” was written by Charles Arthur, for The Guardian on Tuesday 28th February 2012 20.30 UTC

If you use a smartphone and download apps, as half the UK population does now, you’ve probably used an app which pops up a dialog box pop asking “Find your friends?” and offering to search some new social network – or one of the more familiar ones – for people you already know.

It’s easy and quick to click on the “OK” button. But do you know what’s happening once you do? This is where you suddenly discover that what you thought you knew about your online privacy is wrong – or at best, incomplete.

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