News Release

David Bernard
Public Relations Associate, Public Relations
320 DuPont Highway
New Castle, DE 19720

Your Smartphone Is Spying On You

WilmU's 100th doctor of business administration looks at the risks and rewards of putting GPS in your pocket.

The smartphones we carry capture more personal information than many of us realize. This may put our privacy at risk, said consultant Thomas Dodds in a research presentation for his doctor of business administration (DBA) degree at Wilmington University on August 15.

Smart as it is, though, Dodds' phone was not aware of, and did not alert him to, the academic milestone he'd reached that day: he had become the University's 100th DBA graduate since the beginning of the doctoral program.

When the members of Dodds' dissertation committee announced their approval of his defense, the product of four years of study, confetti showered the conference room table at the Wilson Graduate Center in New Castle. The staff also rolled out a green and white cake.

"The subject matter was extraordinarily interesting, and he did a phenomenal job of tying a lot of information together and communicating it to the audience," said Dr. Robert Rescigno, Dean of the College of Business. "This guy really knows what the heck he's talking about."

"Every graduation is different and interesting, but this one was particularly useful at the personal level," said Dr. Ruth Norman, an associate professor in the College of Business, who chaired the committee. "It makes a contribution to industry as well as to the community. It's a good representation of the quality of work in the program."

WilmU's DBA program enrolled its first candidates in the fall of 2008 and added online instruction in January 2014. Combining theory and practice, the degree empowers mid-career professionals in advancement to leadership positions, and career academics to teach business at the college level.

Putting research to work "... is what differentiates the DBA from a Ph.D. It's practical knowledge," said assistant professor Dr. John Sparco, another member of Dodds' dissertation committee. "Most of our students are trying to solve problems for their organizations, so the degree is much more practically applicable."

"The DBA is all about improvement at work, about professional growth, and we are guiding our candidates through the journey," said Rescigno. "When they're finished with the program, they think so differently. They can find the 'Why?' They add value to their companies. Our DBA graduates are promoted to increased responsibilities in business, finance, non-profits and higher education."

Dr. Dodds, an independent IT consultant and computer science adjunct at Neumann University who has worked for a nationally known software manufacturer, said he hopes his degree will open the door to full-time teaching.

In his research presentation, he surveyed smartphone users' views on the rewards and risks of location-based services, the technology that allows mobile apps to determine a user's location through their phone's global positioning system (GPS) functions.

"If I asked you to wear a tracking device, would you wear it?" said Dodds. By the end of the 45-minute presentation, he'd made it clear that most if not all smartphone users already do.

When an app asks if it can tap into a phone's GPS, most users say yes, Dodds noted, in exchange for such real-time rewards as traffic and weather information, coupons and discounts, playing online games, or finding friends through social media.

In comparison, he found that few users are deterred by the potential privacy and security implications of such a trade-off. Consider this: your phone and its apps know your home address. They know when you're at home, when you've left home, and where you've gone. They know your daily patterns. They track, store, and sell this unencrypted location data for their own purposes, without your approval.

"I don't want to give you the idea that location-based service is a bad technology. It's just young," said Dodds. "As a result, it's largely unmonitored by consumers and unregulated by authorities. It reminds me of Windows 'way back when nobody cared about security."

Dodds suggests that consumer education is necessary regarding the consequences of data collection and how to manage location-based services on smartphones. And he speculates that lawmakers may begin to demand disclosure and data encryption from software vendors, especially if a high-profile identity theft, stalking or home invasion case is ultimately linked to location data.

For more information on Wilmington University's doctor of business administration degree, contact Claire Rudolph in the College of Business at or (302) 356-6831.

About Wilmington University

Wilmington University is a private, nonprofit institution committed to providing career-oriented, traditional and online associate, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs. The Wilmington University difference starts with our flexible, year round class schedules and full online learning availability and our graduates end with substantive degrees through one of the lowest tuitions in the tri-state region. Combined with our intense focus on academic excellence and individualized attention to our students in our degree and certificate programs and doctoral degrees, the WilmU difference is reflected in our students' achievements and alumni successes. For more information, contact Wilmington University at 302-356-INFO (4636), via email at, or visit

Published: Tuesday, August 29, 2017 - New Castle, DE