Sick of giving away your data to Big Tech and having your every move tracked? A VPN will help. So will opting out of a few features on your devices. Here are easy setting changes that can improve your privacy if you’re using an Android phone.
1. Google location history
Location history, when enabled, tracks and saves your location even when you don’t have a Google app open to give you personalized maps and help you recall the places you’ve been. If you don’t need that walk down memory lane, you can keep location history off.
To turn off “Google location history” on Android:
- In Settings, tap Privacy > Google location history.
- Tap Turn off.
- Scroll down, then tap Pause.
While Google won’t save your location history on your device anymore, it can still see your real location, as can other third parties such as your internet service provider and the websites you browse. To better mask your location, use a VPN on your device.
Read more: What does a VPN hide?
2. Permission manager settings
It’s sometimes necessary for us to grant apps certain permissions in order for the apps to work properly, such as our contacts, microphone, or camera. To protect access to your device and your privacy, you should at the very least keep permissions to a minimal level. This means turning them off if they aren’t necessary for an app to work. For apps you no longer use but don’t want to remove just yet, turn off permissions till you want to use them.
To turn off Android app permissions:
- In Settings, tap Privacy > Permission manager.
- Tap on each permission.
- For the apps you’ve set to Allowed all the time or Allowed only while in use, set it to Don’t allow.
3. Usage and diagnostics
“Usage and diagnostics,” when enabled, lets Google automatically receive information about what is and is not working on your device, in order to improve its services. This information includes your battery level, app usage, and the quality of your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections.
None of this information should be used to identify you—but you never know. The data could still contain sensitive information such as your email address or location (if your location tracking is also enabled). The solution is to simply turn off this setting.
To turn off “Usage and diagnostics” on Android:
- In Settings, tap Privacy > Usage & diagnostics.
- Toggle the switch off.
4. Android personalization service
Android personalization service gives you personalized content based on your app usage. An example it gives is text you have entered in one app may appear as a search suggestion in another app.
Personalization means loss of privacy. Unless you find it helpful, switch this setting off.
To turn off “Android personalization service”:
- In Settings, tap Privacy > Android personalization service.
- Toggle the switch off.
5. Ads personalization
Every Android device that uses Google Play has an advertising ID. If an app on your device uses Google Ads, it’ll be able to use your advertising ID to build a profile of you and target you with personalized ads. The good news is you can opt out of ads personalization on your device.
To turn off “Ads personalization” on Android:
- In Settings, tap Privacy > Ads.
- Toggle Opt out of Ads Personalization on.
There are still other ways apps and services can customize the ads they show you, such as cookies, your location, and third-party trackers. Opt out of these whenever you can.