Do you have a friend or co-worker you only can trust so far? You know the “I have an important secret to keep that would be problematic if shared with this person” type situation? If you’re sharing confidential data with your smartphone, it’s the same. You are blabbing too much. If you object to others sharing secrets against your will, you may want to pay attention to what I share today. Every day, as you use your smartphone, it’s sharing your information.
Smartphone users like you share 250 million terabytes of data every day. And companies track everything you do or say with your smartphone. They do this because, in the next three years, the in-app advertising market will reach $234 billion. Let’s explore two ways to safeguard your smartphone.
“My smartphone experience will never be the same again. I feel empty and dumb, naked and invaded.” -Famina
Data Tracking Apps
“I deleted all but two of my dictionary apps on my phone! I had about fifteen of them,” says Famina. She goes on to write that her dictionary apps were sending information to Google LLC. Most of us install apps on our phones all the time. Sometimes, it’s situational. You’re out somewhere and someone says, “Try this app out! It lets you do so much.”
Or you could be in a conference session and the speaker says, “Install TikTok. Learn how to use it to promote digital resources, programming, and engagement. “Sixty percent of business owners recently reported (source) that TikTok helps their business. Why shouldn’t educators feel the same way?
Headlines, like this one from BuzzFeed News, are important to consider:
Leaked Audio From 80 Internal TikTok Meetings Shows That US User Data Has Been Repeatedly Accessed From China…“Everything is seen in China.”
Your data is being gathered and tracked.
Your phone is the ideal tool for advertisers and data brokers. They collect your information and serve you ads based on it. Ad companies use software development kits (SDKs). They give those to app developers for free and the developers make money from ads the companies sell.
Your location data, as well as other data, gets sent to someone else (source). The data is also sold to various other entities, including law enforcement. Besides not using apps like TikTok, known to share your data, what else can you do?
Stopping Data Tracking
You may throw up your hands in despair. How can you use your phone and valued services (e.g. weather) without unwanted data sharing?
Kim Komando offers eight ways you can prevent smartphone tracking. Here are a few of those that I have done:
- Disabling location services and opting out of ads.
- Use a more secure browser, like Brave or Firefox Focus, both of which I use.
- Visit the Digital Advertising Alliance website, which offers a tool to opt out of ads on your phone.
But Kim doesn’t share everything you can do. Let’s explore two more options.
Stop Tracking Me
Two more options you can take advantage of include using online scanning tools. These check apps for trackers before you install them on your phone. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? Once your data is out there, who knows where it will go?
Option #1: Blokada
Blokada is an ad blocker and privacy app for Android and iOS. It is open source and a secure software. In spite of that, Blokada (especially on iOS) costs money. It offers two plans, including Blokada Cloud ($19.99 per year) and Blokada Plus ($62.00 per year or $6.49/mo).
What do you get for that cost?
- Blocks ads and trackers
- Works for all apps and browsers
- Requires no root or jailbreak
- Safe design that does not break encryption
- More protection when using a VPN (available as part of Blokada Plus)
You can get it for Android or iOS. You can give it a try for seven days during a free trial, but cancel your subscription before then if you opt against it.
Option #2: Tracker Control
Another option for your consideration is Tracker Control. Available only for Android, it makes it easy for you to check and control hidden data collection. To detect tracking, Tracker Control relies on the disconnect blocklist and an in-house blocklist. Created from analyzing approximately two million apps, the in-house blocklist is powerful.
The Best Solution
Most of us rely on our phones for many reasons. From game-station to ebook reader to social connector, our phones do a lot. The least of which is allow us to make phone calls. Yet when we fail to secure our data on the devices we use, we become co-conspirators. Co-conspirators in selling our data with little benefit or awareness.
The best solution may be to avoid installing apps that sell our data. Using tools like Blokada and Tracker Control can make a big difference– a difference that can mean everything when someone is trying to get a credit card in our name or a loan.