With a recent spate of mobile apps perhaps taking more than their fair share of your personal data and even selling it without your consent, it's high time to take a look at the security and privacy settings that you've chosen for your mobile devices.
Since the recent stories about personal data theft have had a focus on iPhones and iPads, and Apple is reportedly on the verge of announcing its next wave of phones, watches, and other gadgets, let's take a look at your iOS setup, with one particular setting in mind: The "Limit Ad Tracking" feature.
If left enabled (which is the default setting), Ad Tracking allows iOS developers to collect information about you that they use to match you with ads that you're likely to click. You'll still get ads if you limit Ad Tracking, they just won't be as relevant to your tastes, budget, or geographical location.
To turn off this tracking, open the Settings app, enter advertising into the search box, tap Advertising, and tap the slider next to Limit Ad Tracking so that it turns green. This deletes your advertising identifier -- a kind of serial number that uniquely tags you in a way that lets you preserve some anonymity.
If you re-enable Ad Tracking later, you will get a different ad identifier. Or you can reset it manually at any time by tapping n the link right below the Limit Ad Tracking setting. If you tap View Ad Information, you'll see all the personal data that iOS developers can use to target ads, but this area will be empty if you've decided to limit ads.
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While you're in the neighborhood, you may also want to check out your Location Services settings. From the Advertising screen you were just on, tap Privacy in the upper left, then tap Location Services at the top of the list.
In practice, pretty much no app should need more than the "While Using" setting. Giving an app a free pass whether it's running or not can put quite a drain on your battery, as well as open you open to potential privacy issues.
On this screen, you can tap the Location Services slider to turn this feature off for all apps, or you can tap each one and choose "Never" or "While Using." If an app has no options on this screen, that means it doesn't have a function to detect your location and can safely be ignored.
- Mozilla removes nearly two dozen browser add-ons from Firefox for spying on users
- Spyware vendor mSpy suffers another big leak of private customer data
- Mobile app crash analysis tools may be leaking your personally identifiable information
- All Apple iOS apps must have privacy disclosures in the future, reportedly (CNET)
- Younger Americans are deleting the Facebook app, adjusting privacy in wake of Cambridge Analytica (ZDNet)
- The best and worst US states for protecting online privacy (TechRepublic)