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tracked
Now for how you're tracked....

You are tracked in these ways

(click on each tile to learn more)

Tracked overall

Tracked in life

Tracked by devices

Tracked online

How to not be tracked

Data Brokers– see here for a (long) list of large data brokers and how to opt out. Alternatively you can use a paid service like DeleteMe

Credit Bureaus– stop credit bureaus from selling your data for marketing purposes by opting out here

Retailer Beacons– turn off location services and Bluetooth where they are not needed. See this guide for how to manage location sharing on apps for iOS and Android

Loyalty Programs– be mindful of the personal information you share and read their privacy to understand how they use the data. Consider using a secondary email address or Apple sign in or a disposable email service to limit your purchases being linked back to you

Credit Cards– to opt out of their data sharing, ChaseAmerican ExpressVisa and Mastercard have online forms you can fill out. To opt out with Citibank you have to call 888-214-0017; for Discover call 800-225-5202. In addition, consider using Apple Card, which has the best privacy measures

DNA Tests– to delete your data from 23andMe, Ancestry or MyHeritage read instructions here

Smartphones– see this guide on how to minimize location tracking for Apple and Android devices

Smart TVs– see this guide which covers many of the large TV manufacturers on how to adjust settings to minimize data collection

Voice Assistants– see this guide here for how to maximize privacy for Amazon Echo and Google Home

Internet of Things (IoT) Devices– try this IoT Inspector developed by Princeton to see which of your device are tracking you. Use a strong password for the device to thwart hackers and consider using a password manager. Also if your device has two factor authentication then you should enable it

Wearables– read a summary of the privacy policy of the major wearable manufacturers, and how to control data collection on your wearable apps

Digital Cameras– you can remove meta data from photos, or prevent it from being captured in the first place. See bottom of this article for instructions

Online– for Chrome, instructions on how to clear and change cookie settings here. Considering changing to a browser with 3rd party cookies automatically blocked like Safari and Firefox or use extensions that help you block trackers like Ghostery. Read here for a summary of options. In addition, using services like VPNs or Tor will reduce tracking. On phones you can use apps like Jumbo, Disconnect and Lockdown, among others which can help block trackers. If making purchases online consider using a disposable email service to limit the ability to trace that data back to you. Also consider using services that can mask your credit card for additional levels of data and identity protection

Social Media– you can reduce some data collection in the following ways: for Facebook you can adjust some privacy settings, for Instagram, see here for a guide to adjusting privacy settings, for Twitter see here for a guide 

Apps– for iPhone users you can turn on “Limit Ad Tracking” in the privacy settings and turn off Background App Refresh in your general settings. For Android devices you can similarly toggle “Opt out of ads personalization” in your settings

Search Engines– click here for a guide on how you can minimize the variety of ways Google tracks you and delete your information from their database. For an alternative to Google consider using a privacy oriented search engine such as DuckDuckGo or Startpage

Email Services– use a privacy-first email service, see here for a few options. Also be cognizant of the third party apps that you use on top of your inbox—if they are free, they’re likely monetizing your data in some form or fashion. Disable autoloading of images in emails and the use of HTML in inboxes. This is generally where the trackers are embedded. Learn more here

Messaging Apps– use a secure messaging app, ideally one that is not connecting to a marketing or advertising driven company. Read here for a review of some of the most secure messaging apps

Streaming Services– for streaming devices like Roku and Fire TV refer to these instructions to adjust settings to minimize data collection. For Youtube privacy settings, see guide here. For Netflix you can delete your viewing history but not necessarily other data points, see here for more information

Video Conferencing– for some specific advice on how to keep meetings safe on platforms like Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, Facebook visit this guide

Public Wifi– when connecting to a public Wifi, make sure to read their terms and conditions. You can also use services that creates disposable emails if one is required to access the network. To stay safe from hackers while using public Wifi you can adjust your behavior and settings outlined here. You can also utilize VPNs which will reroute your traffic through dedicated encrypted servers and will help protect your data

See what big tech knows about you via the links below. Click on them for instructions to download the data they’ve collected:

Google

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

LinkedIn

Uber

You are indeed tracked, awareness of these trends is key:

With the progression of technology, there are a growing number of devices, products and services, which require and collect data. This data can be important to the advancement of society but it can also be detrimental if used inappropriately.

Large tech players are entering a variety of new industries, with these companies eyeing any industry which uses significant amounts of data. On one hand these companies can provide real value by applying their expertise in big data and artificial intelligence (AI) to new use cases, but on the other hand, it will concentrate power into the hands of a few large tech companies by effectively creating data monopolies.

With the advancement of data science, big data and AI, along with ever more data collected on the average individual, your data will become increasingly powerful. This makes your data an increasingly attractive asset to companies, data brokers, governments and hackers.

Even “anonymized” data can easily become de-anonymized with the rapid advancement of data-based technologies, or by matching up various data sets together. Unfortunately, much of our current legislation is inadequate in dealing with these issues, as these regulations did not take these new technologies and / or methods into account when they were created.

Your awareness of these issues will be key, in both protecting yourself, and putting pressure on legislators to pass effective laws and regulations.

The End...