Smartphone tracks your activities? What can you do?

With the increased use of Smartphones and most importantly robust location-sharing features, it becomes easy to map the location of an individual at a particular period of time. Not only that, with a Google account synced-in with your Android device, all the activities you are doing on your Smartphone gets monitored as well.

Location tracking feature is the serious state of dilemma; one side user wants to stop the tracking, on the other side user wants tracking enabled device in case of theft as it could assist in locating the same. In addition to this, “Targeted advertising” is a common practice these days, using which you get to see online advertisements which are primarily influenced by your day-to-day habits. Even the popular social media giants such as Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and many others make money off mobile ads, and they too need this personalised behavioural information to power their data mining machines.

But, have you ever thought, “Why is your phone allowed to track you?” and “Share that data with unknown third parties?”The answer is, “Because you gave permission”. Typical data-sharing policies are buried within pages and pages of privacy policies and terms of agreements.

Therefore, irrespective of what device you own, weigh-in the pros and cons it can have on you in the physical world as well. Following are few elements, which can hinder your privacy by tracking you in the digital environment, knowingly or unknowingly:

  • Phone’s location settings
  • Advertisement tracking
  • Google Timeline
  • Google Web and App activity
  • Synced-in Google and other accounts with the mobile apps
  • Mobile App permissions
  • Virtual assistants for continuous tracking
  • Find my device apps

There are several factors which can help you stop constant monitoring/tracking by your Smartphone:

  • Use browsers other than Google Chrome
  • Opt out of personalised ad tracking
  • Disable/Turn off services that you don’t use
  • Check settings of the apps installed
  • Remove auto-sync wherever required
  • Check permissions given to the apps installed
    • Analyse for any spyware app
    • Remove unwanted app hindering your privacy

It is solely in the hands of the user to limit the access of rights by the third parties having his/her personally identifiable information (PII). Thus, by being proactive and aware about the benefits and ill-effects, one can have a safe and secured digital identity on their Smartphones.

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