Today is Data Privacy Day, a perfect opportunity to learn how to keep your smartphone from being used for tracking purposes. While it can feel like a daunting challenge to escape the intrusive tracking practices employed by tech companies, advertisers and other players in the surveillance economy, use the four tips below to start taking back control of your digital privacy.
- When installing/using an app or visiting a mobile website, understand the privacy implications of every permission request. For example, giving a map app permission to track your location even when you’re not using the app may unlock helpful features, but doing so means that the company behind the app will have a detailed and highly personal history of your movements.
- Review your app settings periodically to ensure that only necessary permissions are granted for each app. Avoid giving apps access to your location, cameras/microphones and other services unless absolutely needed for app functionality, and delete any apps that force you to accept excessive requests in order to unlock basic functionality.
- Utilize tools within your mobile operating system to limit access to sensors (such as motion sensors and ambient light sensors), as these can provide a gateway to indirect tracking. For instance, Chrome on Android and Safari on iOS allow you to block website requests for access to select sensors.
- Install a mobile ad-blocking app to prevent third-party tracking code – delivered via website or app – from accessing your device.