You are being tracked. A vast network of businesses is actively collecting data about you – and not just you, in the general sense, but specifically you. Your age, gender, income range, location, medical issues, and social connections, everything that describes you is fair game for data brokers.
Companies like Acxiom and BlueKai have created an economy of online, automated surveillance, profiting from the collection and resale of user data to and from marketers, advertisers, and other brokers. The scale and reach of this industry can be disheartening, and avoiding its collective gaze increasingly difficult.
Still, there are ways of decreasing the volume of your data flowing to brokers and even regaining some of your privacy. Ranked from the least to the most involved, here are the services, strategies, and products that can throw the data trackers off your trail.
Buy a Blackphone.
Spies, corporate executives, and serial cheaters have a built-in reason to spend $629 on an ultra-secure Android-based smartphone. The Blackphone is private by design, with a modified version of Android, called PrivatOS, and an array of preloaded apps that encrypt texts, calls, and file transfers. Most of these features are meant to thwart active surveillance and espionage. For those of us more concerned with data brokers, it's PrivatOS that's most relevant – it prevents data from being shared in a variety of ways, including automatically limiting the permissions of newly loaded apps (rather than forcing you to manually denying their ability to share or track data). It's a steep price to pay, but even if you aren't willing to invest in a Blackphone, here's hoping that its modded OS, and obsession with privacy, filters down to more mainstream handsets.
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