Three Steps to Protect Your Phone
This post is admittedly a bit off the usual topic, but I thought it helpful and important enough to share—
If you’d like to minimize the personal data (e.g., your location) that you are most likely routinely providing corporations via your phone, there’s some simple steps you can take to mitigate this, outlined clearly in this article: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/19/opinion/location-tracking-privacy-tips.html. The article discusses how our everyday devices (mostly our smart phones) enable corporations to increasingly surveil our movements, associate it with our online activity, and to then store and sell this information. I’m not the paranoid sort, but after skimming this article my concern was heightened about where unregulated, and/or state-sponsored surveillance could lead (e.g., in China today). I was surprised by what my own phone showed me, for instance, that there is something called an “advertising ID” that was, unknown to me, enabled and active on my iPhone. According to the Times, “Your online activity is often tied together and tracked using your mobile advertising ID, which is a unique number created by your phone and sent to advertisers and app makers.” Your ad ID can be easily disabled if you choose.
This Protect Your Phone article is part of NYT’s Privacy Project, which is a far-reaching examination of how communication/surveillance technology is increasingly impacting our civil liberties, politics, national security, and economics. This series can be found here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/opinion/internet-privacy-project.html. In the words of the Times: “Companies and governments are gaining new powers to follow people across the internet and around the world, and even to peer into their genomes. The benefits of such advances have been apparent for years; the costs — in anonymity, even autonomy — are now becoming clearer. The boundaries of privacy are in dispute, and its future is in doubt. Citizens, politicians and business leaders are asking if societies are making the wisest tradeoffs. The Times is embarking on this monthslong project to explore the technology and where it’s taking us, and to convene debate about how it can best help realize human potential.”