Julia Angwin, author of “Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance” shares the most effective ways consumers can regain a level of control over the information they share.
1) Download anti-tracking software
By using Software such as Ghostery or Disconnect, you can block ad tracking. HTTPS Everywhere can protect against NSA or criminals grabbing your data while it’s in transit. And Tor can anonymize your location so you can evade censorship or surveillance.
2) “Password” is not an acceptable password
The most common password is ‘123456’, and the second most common is ‘password.’ It’s time to change that. I recommend using a password manager to generate passwords and picking random dictionary words to make a few longer passwords for accounts you don’t want to store in the password manager.
3) Don’t keep your webcams exposed
People should put stickers over their Web cameras when they are not using them. Unfortunately, some criminals are tricking people into installing software on their computers that allows remote operation of their web camera. Then they take pictures of unsuspecting people and blackmail them with those photos.
4) Encrypt your texts and calls
People should try to use encryption when they can. Not all encryption software is easy to use – but there are apps for smartphones that are relatively easy to use. I use TextSecure on Android and Silent Text on iPhone. The person you are texting needs to have the same app. But once you both have it, you can be assured that your messages are unreadable to anyone who intercepts them.
5) Familiarize yourself with your smart phone settings
Apple’s latest iPhone software, iOS 7, offers two options to limit ad tracking.
1) In privacy settings, users can turn on “limit ad tracking,” which prevents apps from using the phone’s unique ID – which Apple calls an “Advertising Identifier” – to deliver targeted ads within apps. But this setting does not prevent apps from collecting your information.
2) In privacy settings, users can also reset their Advertising Identifier, which can make it more difficult but not impossible for advertisers to correlate the user’s behavior to the advertising profile associated with the old identifier.
Google’s Android also offers users two options to limit ad tracking.
1) In the Ads section of the Google Settings app, users can check a box to “Opt out of interest-based ads.” But this does not prevent apps from collecting user’s information.
2) In the Ads section of the Google Settings app, users can also reset the Google advertising identifier, which can make it more difficult – but not impossible – for advertisers to correlate the user’s behavior to the advertising profile associated with the old identifier.
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