5 Ways To Control Your Personal Data

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The fact that you take your smartphone everywhere with you and use it to manage nearly every aspect of your life means it’s packed with data about you. Companies like Google and Facebook tap into this data about your online behaviour, location and more to personalise the ads you see and the services you experience.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing it can make things a bit more customised and convenient for you. However, it is also good to be privacy-aware and understand exactly which of your data you are sharing, with whom, and what they’re using it for. Alcatel suggests some ways you can take control of your security and privacy on your Android device.

Revisit app permissions

If you’re like most smartphone users, you may have dozens of apps running on your phone, many of which you seldom or never use. Many of them will be helping themselves to data and services on your phone they don’t really need. As a first step, delete all the apps you don’t use to reduce the number of parties that are accessing your data.

Then, take the time to check the permissions you have given each app. You can decide on a case-by-case basis whether the app really needs access to phone features like calendar, camera, contacts, location, microphone and storage. Be especially careful about which permissions you give to new or less well-known apps.

This is how you do it:
  • Open the Settings app.
  • Tap Apps & Notifications.
  • Tap the app you want to update.
  • Tap Permissions.
  • Choose which permissions you want the app to have.
Check which apps are accessing your Google account

Google lets you allow some third-party apps and services to have access to different parts of your Google Account—for example, to sign in to a news website or a productivity tool that works with Google calendar. You can check this on the Google Accounts Permissions page. Again, you can revoke the permissions from the apps and websites you don’t often use.

Adjust location settings

Google uses location data on your phone to offer location-based information and services, like commute predictions, nearby restaurants, and better local search results. But if you are not comfortable sharing your location data, you can easily turn off location sharing as a universal setting or on a per-app basis. To turn location on or off for your phone:

  • Swipe down from the top of the screen.
  • Touch and hold Location.
  • If you don’t find Location: Tap Edit or Settings.
  • Drag Location into your Quick Settings.

Location History is a Google Account–level setting that saves where you go when:

  • You’re signed in to your Google Account,
  • You have turned on Location History, and
  • Your phone has Location Reporting turned on

You can switch this on and off in the “Location History” section of your Google Account.

Disable ad tracking

Google makes its money from selling targeted advertising, and to do that, it collects data via Android, Gmail, search and all the other wonderful services it offers for ‘free’. You can’t completely escape the net of personalised online advertising from Google and other Internet giants, but you can restrict which data they collect and store.

To turn off personalised ads:

  • Go to your Google Account on your web browser.
  • Click Data & Personalization.
  • On the Ad Personalization panel, click Go to ad settings.
  • Click the switch next to Ad Personalization to turn off personalisation.

Be aware that ads may still be target using info like your general location or the content of the website you’re visiting.

Consider an alternate browser

Google’s Chrome browser for Android is a powerful piece of software with lots of useful features, but there are privacy trade-offs in using it to its full potential. It’s up to you to decide which features you are willing to give away some of your personal data to use. Check out Chrome Android’s privacy settings like this:

  • Open the Chrome app.
  • Tap More, Settings.
  • Tap Privacy and security.
  • Tap the feature that you want to update:
  • Enable ‘Do Not Track’ to ask websites not to collect and use your browsing data.
  • Clear browsing data to delete your browsing history and saved form entries.
  • Use Safe Browsing to protects your device from dangerous sites.

If you’re particularly security and privacy-conscious, you can download a privacy browser like Brave or Firefox Focus to better control who tracks you and collects your data online.