No individual or company is responsible for your online privacy. You are. If you remember the Facebook and Cambridge Analytics privacy scandal, you know exactly what we’re talking about. However, as we continue to purchase more and more devices, we agree to let these new gadgets track us – some in obvious ways, others in less obvious ways. It’s not possible to avoid all tracking if you intend to use devices, from phones to laptops to fitness trackers and more. But you can put restrictions in place to limit what’s collected. Here are some tips on what you can do and how to do it.
When you use a phone, you make a deal, whether it’s with Google or Apple, and you agree to provide them with data. We won’t be providing you with step-by-step instructions on how to set up each phone because it varies so much between iPhones and the numerous Android phones. But we’ll tell you what you should search for as far as settings and privacy.
On iOS, you’ll want to find a Privacy menu and then Analytics. Apple tells you what data is logged and shared here. Specifically on its support site in regards to sensitive personal information, it says, “Personal data is either not logged at all in the reports generated, is subject to privacy preserving techniques such as differential privacy, or is removed from any reports before they’re sent to Apple.” Also under Privacy, you should see all of the permissions used by apps. Take the time to review each of those. We often click OK without reading permissions when installing new apps. Revoke permissions that seem unnecessary.
On Android phones, you’ll want to search for Settings and then find Google and a section about Privacy. You’ll find information on what Google logs, from voice searches to location tracking. It’s a trade off to use the “free” services, such as location sharing with another Android phone user. Choose what fits your needs best. However, know that even if you turn off location services, reports state that Google still records that information. The company has said it would stop. After reviewing your Google account data sharing, you’ll then need to go through what permissions apps have. Look for App permissions under Apps & notifications. Check out which apps are listening (microphone access), watching (camera) and following (location)!
To limit an Apple computer, find the Security & Privacy information in System Preferences. From within there, you can find options for turning off tracking by the OS as well as apps. Under Analytics, you’ll find the data your machines boxes up and ships back over to Apple for you.
What about Chromebooks? These are similar to Android phones, so check out your Google account page to see what’s up. There’s a link from that page, Manage your Google activity, that you should click on and review.