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Liz Weston: Customize your technical settings to protect your privacy Technology

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So much of our confidential personal information is tracked and sold that trying to protect our privacy may seem pointless.

We can disable location tracking in apps for the phone only to find new apps that haunt us the next time we check. We can disable personalized advertising and continue to be bombed by marketers who ignore our wishes. We may be deceived by language that is designed to protect companies’ access to data, not our privacy.

All of this observation allows advertisers to manipulate us to spend more. People who have financial difficulties can be targeted by predatory creditors and other harmful companies. In the event of a database hack, criminals can buy our information for just a few dollars and use it pretend to be us or target us for various frauds.

As individuals, we have limited opportunities to stop curious. As a rule, significant action should come from regulators and legislators. But we can take a few steps to bring back small but significant chunks of privacy and send a signal to companies that we don’t like what they’re doing.

“It’s a way to tell companies that you don’t agree with what they’re doing,” said Bob Sullivan, an independent journalist who advocates for consumer privacy and is the author of Gotcha Capitalism.

LIMIT ON OPENING RESTRICTIONS

You may think it’s your own business how often you visit a liquor store, go to the gym, or attend a religious service. But many companies are engaged in the collection and use of such data for marketing and other purposes. You can throw a wrench into this relentless location tracking change some settings on your devices.

On iPhone and iPad, go to “Settings”, then to “Privacy” to find “Location Services”. On Android devices, go to “Settings” and then “Location” to find “Location Locations Permissions.” Don’t worry that you’ll “break” the program by reducing or eliminating its ability to track you, says Thomas Germain, author of technology and privacy at Consumer Reports. If you want to do something with an app that requires your location, the program will make it easy to turn it on again, Germain says.

Check these settings regularly on all your devices and uninstall any programs you don’t use. The fewer apps you have, the fewer companies have the ability to suck up and sell your data, Sullivan notes.

DISABLE COLLECTION OF OTHER DATA

If you use any Google app or service, your location history may be saved and used even after you disable tracking. Your search and other actions are also saved, so consider disabling Google’s ability to store that data, Germain says.

To do this, open Google.com in the browser, log in to your account and click on the icon in the upper right corner. Select “Manage Google Account”, then “Privacy and Personalization”. In the “Your data and privacy settings” section, select “What you did and where you were.” You’ll see options for viewing information that Google stores about you, as well as ways to turn off data storage and delete saved stories.

Some of Google’s apps may not work without this data, but you can always re-enable those features, Germain says.

“I think people should experiment to turn it off and see if compromises are worth it,” he says.

Another setting on this page that you can disable: personalize your ads. Google is trying to make custom advertising sound like something you need or need; it probably isn’t.

Your devices have similar options. On iPhones and iPads, disable “allow apps to request tracking” in the “Tracking” section of your privacy settings. On Android devices, click “remove ad ID” in the “Advertising” section of the “Advanced” privacy settings. Disabling personalized ads doesn’t completely stop advertisers from following you, but it should reduce the number of companies that have your data, Germain says.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, a feature in the iOS 15 operating software update called “Application Privacy Report” can show how you are profiled and tracked, says Emory Roan, a policy consultant at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

“Turn it on, leave it for a week or two, and then it will tell you a very detailed list of what programs are doing,” says Roan. “It’s a great, great resource for iOS users.”

Germain suggests that an easy way to reduce data mining is to switch to privacy-friendly browsers such as Firefox or Brave.

Also, try to slow down. Many sites and programs ask you to make privacy decisions on the fly, making it easy to tap into the wrong place in your rush to get rid of a pop-up screen.

“All it takes is one wrong answer, and all of a sudden you gave all those permissions,” Sullivan says.

Finally, if you care about privacy, report it to your legislators. Consumers are “sadly ill-equipped” to combat all the ways our data is retrieved and used, Roan says.

“The real“ quick advice ”is that you need to call your representative and tell them to support tougher privacy laws,” he says.

This column was provided by The Associated Press on the NerdWallet personal finance website. Liz Weston is a columnist for NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score”. Email: lweston@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lizweston.

NerdWallet: Identity Theft: What It Is, How to Prevent It, Warning Signs and Tips https://bit.ly/nerdwallet-how-to-prevent-identity-theft

Consumer Reports: 30-second privacy fixes: simple ways to protect your data https://www.consumerreports.org/privacy/30-second-privacy-fixes-simple-ways-to-protect-your-data-a9402343475/

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.

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