How To Prevent Online Companies From Collecting Your Data

prevent online companies from collecting data

There are various techniques that internet search engines and online companies use to gather our information, whether individually or at work, ranging from tracking passwords and payment records to mining email addresses and contacts. Their motivation is to provide us with a more personalized online experience. However, personalized can become intrusive, and many of us have unknowingly consented to our details being monitored. The great news is that we can secure our information; however, this requires you to start opting out.

According to the FTC, online companies gather a broad range of details about your purchasing patterns, online activities, residence, investments and more, including the following information:

 

  • Your name (and previously used names), height, birthday, and gender 

  • Your address (and previous addresses), mobile numbers, and email addresses

  • The ages and birthdays of your children

  • Your weight

  • Your origin and race 

  • Your religion (based on your surname) 

  • What languages you speak 

  • Whether or not you're married (and whether or not you're a single parent) 

  • Who you live with 

  • Your level of schooling and profession (or if you are retired)

  • Bankruptcies, criminal convictions, and tax liens

 

So, how do businesses know this information? You may be inadvertently disclosing information about your personal life. Data brokers may gather details about you if you upload information online, log on to a forum, shop online, or send a public record such as a mortgage or voter registry through email, and eventually, the data broker will sell that to advertisers and other online businesses. Nuwber can show you information publicly available about yourself online.

Data brokers also make educated guesses about you and your preferences depending on other knowledge they have, they then divide you into segments. Advertisers will then purchase lists of customers that are likely to be interested in their brand and product.

Privacy advocates are concerned that businesses will use personal information, especially demographic information, to discriminate against customers. For example, the FTC advises that lenders might threaten disadvantaged communities with subprime loans, or insurers may determine that individuals who engage in risky hobbies are high-risk. Such issues are merely speculative, and certain consumers might even value targeted advertisements. 

Here are simple steps you can take to prevent online companies from collecting data.

Check privacy settings of your search engine

By changing the privacy settings on each of your devices, you can control the level of privacy you require for each search engine service you use. Google, for example, has a Privacy Checker to assist you with understanding what details it receives and how to properly change your privacy settings. Google also has a dashboard where you can manage your activity and make adjustments if necessary.

Avoid using store loyalty cards

Data brokers often gather information from the real world. It is difficult to restrict brokers' access to some types of personal information, such as public documents. If your privacy is extremely valuable to you, however, reject deals for supermarket, retail and fast food loyalty cards. This is a big way companies collect knowledge about your purchasing patterns. What's the catch? You may miss out on exclusive offers.

Avoid signing into your search engine account

Use the internet only when you are not logged into your search engine's email or account. While much of your data may not be monitored, bear in mind that the relevancy of your searches will decline. For certain people, it is a small price to pay for the increased protection they desire.

Check your social media accounts

Many mainstream social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have privacy controls; take advantage of them. Check the settings every now and then to see if you're comfortable with how your data is being used. 

Get rid of your search history

Click the ‘delete cookies when leaving search engine' button in your internet preferences to ensure that your browser history is erased each time you leave. Remember to exit the search engine browser in order for the deletion of the cookies to take effect. You can manually uninstall website searches by going back to your browser history in preferences and manually removing search words and sites that you don't want to be tracked.

Change the privacy settings in search engine apps – or delete them.

Major search engines have apps for images, videos and drives that can be downloaded onto your cellphone and other devices. If you download these apps, make sure to change the privacy settings on each one to your desired degree of privacy – or uninstall them entirely.

Use non-mainstream search engines

The only way to stop Google from monitoring you is to stop using Google. Alternative search engines, such as DuckDuckGo, Gibiru and Yippy do not monitor your past or gather your data. The downside is that smaller search engines lack robust browsing functionality.

Don't allow a search engine to store your passwords or payment information.

If you allow it, the big search engines use software that saves the usernames and passwords for various websites. You can conveniently disable this feature in your account or simply refuse their offer to store your details for you. If your search engine database is hacked, this stops hackers from having access to any of your records and profiles.

Many internet consumers are unaware that their IP address – especially if they are signed into a search engine-owned account – or cookies leave traces in their online searches. Search engines can not only detect what and how you search on the internet, as well as the advertisements, photos and videos you click on, but they can also determine your location, IP address and device type. They have access to your search engine-linked email address, your schedules and contacts, your voice recordings. They can obtain your passwords and payment information by offering to save them for future use.

A strong internet safety strategy is required to prevent online companies from collecting your data. These tips will help you successfully use the internet and secure your data.

 

 

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