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Online privacy is an oxymoron. For example, your phone has an advertiser ID that is supposed to keep your location anonymous. Are you surprised it isn’t? I don’t either. Click or click here to view and remove your advertiser ID.
Advertisers and Big Tech don’t always spy. A stranger or someone you know can poke around in your accounts. Tap or click for a quick check you should do to keep your Facebook, Google, and Netflix accounts safe.
Privacy is not a given. Here are five ways to give back as much as possible.
1. Everyone’s least favorite type of cookie
You collect cookies when you browse web pages on your phone, computer or tablet. These bits of data store information about the websites you visit. Cookies store your logins, personalization settings, advertising information and other details.
On the plus side, cookies save images and files and save you from having to log in every time you visit the site. But these cookies contain a lot of your information. Fortunately, you can delete cookies manually in a few steps.
And even better, use incognito mode. When you browse web pages in incognito mode, your browser does not save your history, cookies, site data, or information you enter into forms. This does save any downloaded files or bookmarks created during the session.
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Keep in mind: Your ISP can still see your activity, as can the school or employer that provides you with Internet or computer access.
To go into incognito mode in Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge, tap Ctrl + Shift + N (or Command + Shift + N on a Mac). Tap or triple tap, you should always browse in incognito mode.
For even more privacy, run a VPN. A virtual private network, or VPN, is a layer of protection between your devices and the Internet. It hides your IP address and your location. It also encrypts your data after you leave your device and go to the site you visit.
Don’t even think about using a free VPN. At best, it will lack essential privacy features and slow you down. At worst, it hides malware or tracks your information. My choice ExpressVPNThe VPN I used before they sponsored my national radio show.
2. Your emails are a wealth of information
Just think about everything in your inbox. In the wrong hands, these digital messages can cause great harm.
Encryption is a method of protection your email from hackers, criminals and prying eyes. This is the process by which your emails are encrypted, so if hackers manage to intercept them, all they’ll see is gibberish.
Well-known email services such as Gmail and Yahoo do not provide end-to-end encryption. Encryption is difficult to implement and usually requires the involvement of all correspondents. The process is not end-to-end if your email uses encryption but my doesn’t do. At some point, your message will become vulnerable.
If email encryption is necessary, you’ll need to switch to a secure service such as StartMail, ProtonMail, Mailfence, Tutanota, or Hushmail.
Use Gmail? You can send a confidential email. An email sent in private mode cannot be forwarded, and you can choose whether to require the recipient to use a password to read it. Tap or click here and scroll to #3 to see the steps to try it yourself.
3. Your apps follow where you go
Your phone knows exactly where you’ve been over the past few days, weeks, and even months. If it’s been a while since you looked at yours phone location settingsdo it now.
Check out this hidden location setting on your iPhone:
Click Settingsthen Privacy.
Choose Location servicesthen scroll down to System services.
Choose Significant places to see a record of where you’ve been and turn it off.
Here’s how to adjust your location settings on Android:
Open Settingsthen scroll down and tap Accommodation.
To stop all tracking, you can switch Use location turned off.
If you don’t want to remove all permissions, click Location app permissions.
For each app, tap it to choose the option you want: Allow all the time, Allow only while using the app, Ask every time, or Don’t allow. You can also decide whether the app sees your exact or approximate location.
4. Your TV looks right at you
Sorry to break it for you. Your streaming services also track your activity. It makes sense. Netflix, Hulu and everyone else wants to know what shows you like so they can recommend content you’ll enjoy and not mind paying for.
However, monitoring does not benefit you. Streaming services collect your browsing history and the ads you watch or skip. They then share this data with advertisers.
If you have a smart TV, you also have the necessary settings for viewing. Tap or click to stop spying on your Samsung, LG, Amazon Fire TV or Roku TV.
5. Stop sharing everything you buy and view
Google always seems to know just what you want and it’s not in your head. Google tracks every search, click, message, and request. Clear your search history and activity from time to time. Here’s how:
Go to myaccount.google.com and log in. Alternatively, go to google.com and click the circle icon in the upper right corner with a picture or initials inside. Then click Manage your Google Account.
Click Data and privacy in the menu on the left.
You’ll see checkmarks next to Web & App Activity, Location History, and YouTube History. Click each one to adjust the options. Switch them turned off to stop further tracking if you wish.
On these pages, you can also set up automatic deletion for future actions. I highly recommend you enable it. You can choose between 3 months, 18 months or 36 months.
Don’t stop there. Tap or click for more Google privacy settings you can change now.
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Learn about all the latest technology at The The Kim Command Show, the nation’s largest weekend talk show. Kim takes calls and offers advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data breaches. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.