Annual Privacy Checkup

Feb 01, 2024

So much information about us is collected, compiled, and sold to the highest bidder. January is Data Privacy Month and there’s no time like right now for your annual data privacy checkup. Much of the data collection happens in the background, but there is a lot we give away freely. For example, let’s say a website makes you sign in to read an article. You can create an account, but that takes time, and its so much easier to just log in with your Facebook or Google account, right? That moment you sign in, you are divulging more data tracking points. Everything you do on the site is sent back to Facebook or Google and the website may get data back from them as well. The good news is that you can unlink from most of these sites fairly easily. On Facebook, navigate to Settings & Privacy > Settings > Apps and Websites to see what websites are linked. On Google, simply visit the linked accounts page. Below are a few additional ways your phone is tracking you and how to limit it:

Ad Tracking: Unfortunately, this will not totally stop companies from tracking your phone activities and it wont limit the ads you will see, but it will allow you to unlike any targeted advertising profiles associated with your phone.

iPhone: Settings > Privacy > Apple Advertising > Toggle “Personalized Ads” to Off.

Android: Settings > Google > Ads > Toggle on “Opt-out of ads personalization”.

Opt-out of ads: Believe it or not, you have the power to just opt out of interest-based advertising, or at least most of it. The Digital Advertising Alliance has a consumer choice page that lets you see which of its participating partners is currently targeting you with customized ads. When you first visit the site, Alliance will first scan your device. Once the scan is complete, you will be shown a list, and from there you can opt-out of whichever you choose. 

Control permissions on your apps: Before you install apps, always check their permissions on their Google Play or Apple App Store pages. Android phones will give you a rundown of the permission requests upon app installation. Apple apps will typically show you a permissions access pop-up. You should check your app permissions regularly. Here’s how:

iPhone: Settings > Privacy. Here you will see all the app permissions your iPhone has and you can review them one by one. 

Android: Settings > Apps > (Select the app you want to check) > Permissions. From here you can toggle the specific permission on or off. 

This is not a comprehensive list, and it’s a good practice to get in the habit of checking these and other privacy options on your devices regularly. These simple steps are a way each of us can control our digital privacy.