5 Personal Secrets You Could Be Sharing Without Knowing
We are constantly plugged in. We are connected to the Internet via our computers, mobile devices, and even some of our appliances. The movement to seamlessly give you the same experience across all of your devices can also mean that certain bits of information can be shared without you knowing.
Your cell phone is often working in the background sharing your personal information without you even knowing. And how many of us actually sit down and thoroughly read through an app’s terms and conditions or privacy policies we are agreeing to?
Behind your back, apps can be tracking your personal data, and potentially what you share on your device. There has been some legislation to try to address this security gap such as the California Consumer Privacy Act. This act has pushed to enhance privacy rights and consumer protection for residents of California, United States. It gives California residents more control over the personal information that businesses collect about them. This has opened up a greater awareness of how a lot of cookies and other web trackers collect information.
These are five things you could be unknowingly sharing.
Allowing apps and websites to access your GPS location can give them the ability to track your location.
Some apps, third-party vendors, and ad trackers can be logging that information. When you opt-in to let apps and websites access your GPS or location information, they can be tracked. It may not be something you are actively thinking about but a third-party ad company or web tracking software logging where you are and where you go can be a bit disturbing. You wouldn’t like someone tracking where you go so why would it be okay for a random ad company to know where you are going?
Your browsing history
It’s not unheard of for your browsing history to be tracked. Google Analytics is known for tracking what you are browsing on the internet. Ane you may not realize it, but if you visit a website on your phone, apps can often be outright tracking what you are looking at. You can absentmindedly click through some links from your favorite apps like Twitter and Facebook, and now those social networking sites are tracking what you’re looking at and it’s tied to your personal social media information.
If this is something you didn’t sign up for, you can opt out of some of your browsing being tracked by using a private browser like Tor.
Your activity on Google
Google is one of the key players on the Internet. They can track a lot of your browsing to allow your experience to be seamless. You look at a video on YouTube from your phone but may continue it on your computer. You may search for something and want to check in your history to find it. A peek at your Google Activity History would show you just how much of your Internet experience is being tracked. You may not want some searches, settings, or locations to be tracked. From this link, you can opt out of what you are saving.
Your friend’s personal information
By giving access to your social media accounts you can potentially give access to your social media contacts’ information.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal really put into perspective how your social media information is up for grabs. Users who downloaded the app “This Is Your Digital Life” in 2015 had given third-party app permission to acquire their data. This gave the app access to information from their friend network which resulted in the data of 87 million users being shared with the app without explicit permission.
That was a wake-up call. Facebook has since cracked down. But, there’s still plenty of information about your family, friends, and co-workers up for grabs on your social networks. The content your friends like and the personal information they share on your profile is public. Even if you keep this information private, apps, pages, and accounts you opt into will still have access to some of this information.
What you’re watching
You may give an app access to your microphone. We know online assistants like OK Google and Siri only listen to you after you say certain cue words. But with access to your microphone, certain apps can use that to get more information about you.
And while the government would limit these apps explicitly listening in on our microphones, there are workarounds. Using code from a company called Alphonso, apps can track audio sounds from commercials or movies you are watching to more directly target you. It’s disturbing to think that random audio sounds from ads can be communicating with our phones.
We are getting more and more reliant on our cell phones, laptops, and tablets and the apps that we use every day can help us with anything from ordering food, staying up to date on news, exploring shopping, dating, and more. But it’s important to be aware of what you’re signing off on when you download an app or visit a website. If you don’t like the idea of constantly being tracked and monitored, take the time to know your rights and take control of any data that you are not okay with sharing.
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