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Privacy in a Technological World

There’s an ad campaign from Apple out right now with the theme, “Privacy Matters.” Earlier ads from spring of 2019 were initially on the funny side: a driver in traffic too intently watching a car passenger apply blush, a lady laughing at her incoming messages (which are never revealed), and so on. The latest ads take a little more serious tone:

“Right now, there is more private information on your phone than in your home. Think about that. So many details about your life, right in your pocket….your location, your messages, your heartrate after a run…”

The message is slightly more somber—we are carrying around our full lives on a device that fits in our pocket. Our data is a commodity and every move, purchase, search, we make is valuable to companies. Additionally, we generally have access on our phones to bank accounts, all our photos, our cloud storage, the messages and phone calls we send and receive.

It is important that we pay attention to the settings on our phones to ensure we are doing the best we can to protect our information. Have you ever opened a new App that requests a crazy amount of permission—access to your contacts and such—in exchange for minor conveniences like an extra bright flash light? Almost everything requires some permissions but you can limit which apps can access different things. You should always make sure your lock screen is secure and access for a stranger isn’t just one lost phone and a swipe away. You should set up the ability to remotely wipe all the data so if you do lose it, no one will be able to access your data (even if they crack your security code). Does your phone automatically connect to wifi when you’re out and about? Is your location always tracked? If so, are these things necessary for you or can you change those settings so that they must be turned on manually? These are all important ways you can try to retain at least a small amount of privacy in an increasingly data-exposed world. If you’re interested in implementing any of the tips I mentioned here, sign up for one of our tech-tutoring sessions (generally Thursday afternoons) and I’ll give you one-on-one guidance in modifying settings and more. Or if you’re just generally interested in ways you can make your phone work for you (tools and apps that you might find useful, setting up phone for better navigation, etc) I’d love to help you. Technology can be scary. But technology can also be an incredible tool which enhances our lives if used thoughtfully and with a little bit of effort.

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