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.
Limit tracking on your phone.
Though the steps vary by operating system, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone include settings that let you limit the amount of information that is being funneled to data brokers, as well as to the advertisers and app developers who sell your data to those brokers. These features range from denying location-based data to specific apps – including non-intuitive apps, which don't have a reasonable, Yelp-like reason to know where you are – to opting out of "interest-based ads," which are the beating, creepy heart of the data brokers' mass collection efforts. Check your phone's settings for privacy options.
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