What an amazing feat of technology that your phone’s GPS lets you instantly search for nearby cafes, get traffic alerts and find your friends, among countless other location-sensitive tasks. And parents can breathe easier knowing where the kids are located at the tap of a button.
Specialty apps not only track a phone’s location. You can get a full log of all calls sent and received, text messages and web activity. This information is available online after you create a free account. Tap or click here for a free phone tracking program that works on both Apple and Android devices.
Tracking and data collection also happens when you’re using the web. Before long you notice pages you visit are inundated with advertisements that are so specific, you look over your shoulder. Tap or click here for 6 ways to stop advertisers from following you online.
You can bolster your privacy, diminish targeted ads and even stop your phone from tracking you altogether. Ready to go dark? Here’s how.
1. Review your location settings
If you take extra steps, you can prevent iOS and Android devices from tracking you. Known as “Frequent Locations,” this feature pinpoints your movements, your home, your work and everything else you granted permissions to.
If you find this unsettling, turn the feature off. Here are the basic steps, but depending on your specific model and operating system, the steps may be different.
Turn off location settings on Apple devices:
- Click Settings and select Privacy.
- Select Location Services and scroll down to System Services.
- Choose Significant Locations to see the logged record of where you’ve been and toggle it off. You can also clear your history by clicking Clear History.
To adjust these settings on Android devices:
- Open Settings and scroll down to tap Location.
- At the top, turn Use location off.
- To delete your device’s cache, tap Delete Location History at the bottom of the screen under Location History.
Your phone isn’t the only tech keeping track of you. Tap or click to see some seriously stunning spy tech that could be watching you.
2. Put a cap on the advertiser tracking
Android and iOS provide built-in options to minimize ad tracking. These tools won’t stop companies from tracking your phone activities, and they won’t limit the number of ads you see. Still, they will allow you to reset your advertising ID and unlink any targeted advertising profiles associated with your gadgets.
Here’s how to limit ad tracking on iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch:
- Go to Settings.
- Tap Privacy.
- Tap Advertising.
- Toggle Limit Ad Tracking to On.
To limit ad tracking on Android:
- Go to Settings.
- Tap Google, then Ads.
- Toggle Opt out of ads personalization on.
3. Stop the mighty Google
Google knows a ton about you, down to what you like, where you go and exactly what you search. Tap or click here for an in-depth look at what the search giant does with all that information.
Here’s how to turn off web and app activity tracking on your Android devices:
- Sign in to your Google Account.
- Click on Data & personalization.
- Under Activity Controls, tap Web & App Activity and turn it off.
Pausing Location History doesn’t completely turn off Google’s location markers. Although it stops Google from adding your movements to your Timeline, location data is still being saved on your Web and App Activity.
4. Use a browser that doesn’t track you
Private web browsers include Mozilla’s free Firefox Focus app. This anonymous mobile web browser blocks advertising, analytics and social trackers by default. It also erases passwords and browsing history after each session. Tap or click here to learn more about Firefox Focus.
The mobile versions of Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Edge also have incognito and InPrivate modes you can use. Tap or click here to learn about Chrome’s incognito mode and Edge’s InPrivate mode.
For a more independent browser, you can try Dolphin browser.
Alternatively, iPhone users can use the default Safari browser and access a private window for stealthy browsing. Just tap the window icon in the bottom right corner and select Private.
DuckDuckGo is another private search engine, especially popular with my readers, viewers and listeners. Tap or click here a closer look at a few Google alternatives and see if one is a better fit for you.
5. Check location and access to your phone’s camera and mic
Before you install apps, read the app’s terms and conditions. I get it, they’re long and tedious and no one ever reads them. If you’re on Android, at least check the app’s permissions posted on their Google Play page.
It’s good practice to thumb through the app’s permissions on your phone and make sure you are comfortable with certain apps having access to your location, camera or microphone.
You’ll be surprised how many of your apps have access to them right now. If you’re not sure how to do that, I’ve got your back. Here’s how to control your apps’ permissions on both Android and iOS.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.