Take these 5 steps to prevent apps from collecting your data now

Take these 5 steps to prevent apps from collecting your data now

Companies are desperate for your data. If possible, don’t give it to them, as they may lose it to criminals or sell it to the highest bidder in the event of a data breach.

By reading the application’s privacy policy, it should be easy to determine what information the companies collect. Unfortunately, the reality is not so clear. “I’m very reluctant to tell consumers to read privacy policies,” noted Jen Caltrider, project manager for Mozilla’s Privacy Not Included team. “I read privacy policies for a living; they’re mind-blowing. People who don’t read them for a living don’t really stand a chance.” You can see our discussion on privacy while using mobile apps here.

Caltrider and his team recently published a fact-checking report that examines the Google-mandated privacy labels on the top 20 free and paid Android apps. As PCMag’s Rob Pegoraro noted in his article about the report, 10 of the top 20 paid apps received poor ratings, meaning Mozilla researchers found significant differences between self-reported data collection practices on the security label and developer-reported data collection practices. between exercises. data protection policy.

This means that the data security label information reported to Google does not necessarily match the information in the privacy policy. How can you trust that any of these self-reported data collection statements are accurate? You can not do it. Instead, it’s up to you, the consumer, to protect yourself by reviewing the data collection permissions the app requests from your device and deciding whether you’re willing to opt out of that information.

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How to avoid data collection

I asked Caltrider to tell me how to find the most data intensive apps. I’ve organized your methods into a list of tasks to complete before downloading any new apps.

This list may sound like a chore, and it is! You don’t have to do this to prevent companies from getting your personal information and selling it or using it for their own purposes. Whether through effective federal legislation or independent oversight, companies should be held accountable for not accurately disclosing their data collection practices. Until that happens, here are Jen Caltrider’s ways to avoid apps’ data collection efforts:

  1. Read the data collection policy. Each privacy policy has a section detailing what data the app collects. Most privacy policies also include details of the company’s policies on sharing data with third parties. Look for apps that collect a lot of personal information from you and aren’t clear about how they use your data. Avoid apps that don’t allow you to opt out of sharing your data with third parties.
  2. Search for keywords. Open the privacy policy in a browser and use Ctrl-F to open a search window. Scan the document for keywords related to how data is collected and used. I suggest you start your search with the words “sale”, “sale” and “collect”.
  3. Check the privacy information before downloading new apps. Android users need to open the app page in the Google Play Store and expand the About app section. Tap the App Permissions link to see details about the app’s data collection methods.

    screenshots of permissions in the Google Play Store

    iOS users can review what data an app collects before it lands on their device. When you’re viewing the app’s page in the App Store, scroll down to the App protection section and tap Data associated with you and Data not associated with you.

    Screenshots of App Store permissions

  4. Check your phone’s permissions for installed apps. Check your phone’s app permissions every month to see if some apps are collecting too much data. Android users need access to their device’s permission manager. Open the Settings menu, scroll down to Security & Privacy, tap the Privacy bar, and then tap the link labeled Permission Manager. iOS users can access their phone’s app privacy reports in the Privacy & Security section of Settings.
  5. Delete unused apps from your device. “Did you buy your house? Delete the realtor app. Are you looking for the love of your life? You have the dating app, you found them. Great, delete the apps. Get them off your phone as fast as you can, Caltrider said. He went on to mention that instead of using the social media app, using the browser version offers a similar experience, but with increased privacy.

Stop data collection at the source

The next time you download an app from the App Store or Google Play, keep this list in mind and consider how long it takes to create it. Again, I don’t think it’s necessary to access most mobile apps without giving up valuable personal information, but that’s our current reality.

Stop tech companies from collecting data by shutting down sources of information. Remove these invasive applications. Use the web version of popular apps or don’t use them. You have the power to make change, even if it’s small. You deserve your privacy too – take some of it back.

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