According to a study published in 2016 by the Nielsen Company, Americans spend on average 10 hours and 39 minutes per day using technology. Whether it’s for work or play, it’s important to stay informed about your rights to privacy and how best to protect yourself in a world brimming with online threats. The advancement of technology, specifically cell phones, over the last decade has given us access to education, games, and endless information, but have we offered our privacy in exchange?
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts stated, “The fact that technology allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought,” in Riley v. California.
Whether it is corporations after your data or individual hackers, there are a multitude of threats lurking online. Your phone, tablet, computer, smart TVs, smart speakers, and even security cameras pose a risk to your privacy and security. It’s necessary to take preventative steps and continue to monitor your activity.
Without going completely off the grid, here are some ways to increase your privacy online:
- Change your internet browser settings to not allow third-party cookies. Third-party cookies are used for tailored advertising.
- For Apple iPhone users, you can install extensions that can block third-party cookies.
- For Android users, you’ll have to download a different internet browser such as Brave Browser.
- Review your settings on social media. You can disable ad personalization on Facebook by going to the Settings and Privacy tab, clicking on Privacy Shortcuts, then Review Your Ad Preferences, then Ads Settings, and choosing do not allow for “Ads based on data from partners” and “Ads based on your activity on Facebook Company Products that you see elsewhere.”
- Block location data on your internet browser.
- Safeguard your devices with 2-factor Authentication. Most accounts will allow you to authenticate with either a text message or an authentication app.
- Do a privacy checkup on Facebook. This will take you through your profile privacy settings to choose who can see what information you’ve provided Facebook, including your cell phone number. The final part of your privacy checkup is for app privacy. This allows you to edit who on Facebook can see the apps and websites you use.
- Turn on Login Alerts on your email and social media accounts to receive notifications when there’s a login on an unrecognized device or location.
- Watch your cellular bill. Your mobile account can be stolen. Take a closer look at your mobile bill each month, it should stay relatively the same. Consider adding a PIN for an added layer of security.
- Use a unique login for security cameras and baby monitors. Turn baby monitors off when not in use.
Taking preventative measures, staying informed, and regular inspections of your activity are great ways to retain your privacy online.