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7 Ways To Protect Your Data Privacy Online In 2021
It’s probably no news that technology is tracking us all. From the searches you perform to the sites you visit and things you do, everything about you online is being tracked. Websites, Apps, and IoT devices are collecting information about you and selling them to advertisers without your permission or knowledge.
To assist you in taking appropriate measures to tie up all the loose ends, we have compiled a list of 7 effective ways you can use to protect your privacy online in 2021.
1. Invest in a VPN to stay safe on public networks
When it comes to protecting your privacy online, one of the first things you should do is to get a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and use it. A VPN can be an effective way to surf the web while keeping the prying eyes of businesses, governments and even hackers from seeing your personal information.
A VPN encrypts your personal data and renders them unreadable so no one, not even the owner of the free Wi-Fi network or your ISP can snoop on your data. Using a VPN is a breeze as all you need to do is to open a VPN account and connect to any of the different servers throughout the world.
When looking for a VPN, make sure to use the most private VPN you can find. Here are some important features to look out for when shopping for a VPN. Firstly, you should check where your chosen VPN is based as those in countries like US and most of Europe are subject to data retention laws (with some exceptions). You’ll also want to make sure that no records of how your use the VPN are kept, and if anyone asks for them, there won’t be any data to give.
2. Check your social network’s privacy settings
A common mistake many people make is failing to check the privacy settings on their favorite social media site. Most apps and websites today come with default permissions to share your information with other third-party online users and you need to check the settings from time to time.
It’s crucial to tweak the privacy settings to reflect the level of personal privacy you want. Here are a few examples of settings you need to update:
- Not using location data when posting
- Preventing users from tagging you in photos
- Hiding your email address and data
- Not including your current address, birthdate, email address and phone number on your profile
- Turning off personalization and data etc.
3. Erase everything and limit what Google knows about you
Undoubtedly, Google can be very helpful when you need answers but keep in mind that the free service comes at a cost. Google trackers are lurking on about 75 percent of websites, which means they not only track what you search for but also monitor your online activity. Google uses the data gathered about you to personalize ads that follow you everywhere you go.
If you don’t want Google to know everything there is to know about you, you should delete your entire Google history. Here’s how to erase your Google activity:
- Visit the My Activity page on your device and select the vertical ellipsis
- Select ‘Delete Activity By’ and change the date from ‘Today’ to ‘All Time’
- Select ‘All Products’ and click on ‘Delete’
- Now confirm that you want to delete your activity history
To stop Google from saving your activity, go to the Activity Controls page and check for a section titled ‘Web & App Activity.’ Slide the switch to the next and confirm your decision to pause your Web & App Activity. Alternatively, if you don’t want Google to know all about you, consider switching to any of the plenty alternatives.
4. Opt for a more privacy-friendly app for messaging
If you have been following developments in the tech industry, you’re probably aware of WhatsApp’s new policy to share commercial user data with parent Facebook. The policy also empowers WhatsApp and Facebook to share your information with businesses and third-party service providers that transact on these platforms.
To ensure maximum privacy, consider switching to close substitutes messaging apps like Signal. Messages on the app are encrypted using the Signal Protocol, which is arguably the most secure text messaging protocol ever developed. What’s more, Signal has better privacy policies than WhatsApp as all it requires is your phone number for registration and after that point, it knows nothing about your account.
5. Turn off your location
Geo-tracking is a growing threat to online privacy in that it helps businesses and websites track your location through your device. Admittedly, turning your location on can help you go anywhere you want to go but once it has served its purpose, you should turn your location off again.
When you leave your location on, it allows sites and apps to track you and get detailed geo-location data about you, which they can sell to advertisers. Although your identity is kept private, anyone can still connect the dots to discover who you really are. So be sure to turn off your location and use a VPN to further hide it behind a fake IP address.
If you have left your location setting on before now, you might need to delete your entire search history and prior destinations in Google Maps. The process is fairly easy but you will have to delete items one at a time. Here’s how to go about it:
- Open Google Maps on your iPhone or iPad, swipe in from the left edge and tap settings
- Tap ‘Map History’ to see a scrolling list of every search you’ve made and destination
- Tap the menu buttons and then ‘Delete’ to erase an item
6. Delete some apps on your phone and use a browser instead
There are many apps today that collect information that they don’t need to operate. For example, a seemingly harmless app like a flashlight app could be collecting your data and selling them to third-parties. Take a look at the permissions of apps on your device and identify the apps that require access to your data.
Going further, as far as privacy goes, browsers are more preferable because they can’t access as much data as apps can. Just in case you were thinking of adopting Chrome, remember that Google owns the app, which means your online activity will still be monitored. Safari and Firefox are highly rated because they ensure maximum privacy.
7. Send a request to remove your personal information
Thanks to recent data privacy laws, you can now ask companies to remove your personal information that you believe has been collected and stored. Some state and international laws have made it mandatory for companies to carefully handle user data and erase it when the user makes the request. All you have to do is find out how and who to ask for the removal of your data as the process varies from organizations to organizations.
Privacy concerns have increasingly become widespread in recent times, with many people seeking for ways to take charge of their online privacy. The above are smart ways through which you can protect your personal data and online privacy in 2021. At Canada Techs, we offer services to protect your data and online privacy. Reach out for a free consultation.