Let's face it, we're all giving up some of our privacy in the 21st century. As much as you may value your privacy, your personal information is in the hands of computer makers, websites, corporations, politicians, governmental agencies, hackers and who knows who else?
There are so many benefits of the Digital Era. If you're disabled, for example, you can get around in Uber. You can FaceTime with your elderly parents across the country.
The internet has made all our lives better. However, one downside is that it seems everyone is collecting information about you and sharing it with everyone else.
That's unsettling but there's good news here. You can significantly limit the amount of private information they collect, whether you're using a laptop, smartphone or fitness tracker.
Often, that starts with the information you allow them to collect when you're first setting up your laptop, phone or tracker. Take a moment, slow down and carefully read through each step in the setup before check-marking anything.
It's easy to mindlessly click through a setup, but that's when companies like Microsoft are asking for your permission to collect private information. It's easier to protect your privacy by restricting what a company can collect than going back and trying to reclaim your privacy.
Microsoft has taken steps to give you more control over your privacy, but it still collects loads of information about you. It's not the only company to do this, but it's one of the worst offenders.
Here's how you can control your privacy: Click on the start button (the Windows icon in the lower-left side of your screen) >> Settings >> Privacy.
Give yourself some time to thoroughly review your Windows 10 privacy settings. Click on each tab, like General, Location, Camera, Microphone and others.
Review your privacy options to see which ones are turned on and which ones are turned off. Slide the orange button (see above) to turn an option on or off.
Apple, just like Microsoft and other companies, tracks you - a lot. But you have control over your privacy.
Here's what to do: Click on your Apple menu >> System Preference >> Security & Privacy. Choose the information like Location that you allow Apple to collect.
Note: If you're using an iPad, go to Settings >> Privacy >> click on categories like Location Services on the right-hand side >> turn them on or off.
If you're using one of the 2 billion (or so) smartphones running on Google's Android operating system, you know that Google collects a ton of information about you. They do that, as other companies do, to make it easier to provide you with personalized information.
That could be a Google Map giving you directions to your doctor's office or telling you what time your local library closes. Those are good things, but they come at a cost.
You're almost always being tracked. Here's how to limit what private information Android collects about you.
Note: Many companies manufacture Android smartphones. Your steps may vary from the instructions below.
Try this: Click on Apps >> Settings >> Privacy and Safety. You can change your settings for Location, and control which information that apps track.
Click on Settings on your iPhone >> Privacy. Take a moment to review settings for Location Services, Calendars, Photos and more.
Fitness Tracker Privacy
Fitness trackers are designed to help you improve your health. They can track the calories you burn up while exercising and the number of hours you sleep.
They can tell if your heart is racing or is in a calm state. They can also tell you where are you, meaning your location.
That's what fitness trackers do - they track you. Fortunately, you can put a limit on how much they know about you.
There are many fitness tracker manufacturers and apps, so you need to check yours for privacy settings. But follow steps like these for Fitbits and apps.
Click on Profile >> choose your account >> Personal Stats >> Settings >> Privacy. You can control some of your privacy from here, like who sees your workout stats.
How to surf anonymously the simple way
Your private information is at risk! You know that hackers steal credit card information, Social Security numbers, your IRS refund and more.
But there is a simple way to disappear online while surfing the web just like you normally do. You do that with TOR.