Kiss Your Privacy Goodbye?

The world is getting more and more connected. With all the cellphones, smart watches, cameras,  tracking and data sharing around you, it is a wonder you can do anything without it being recorded in some way.

In some regards, it can be a good thing. If you are the victim of identity theft, you might be relieved to know that the store the perpetrator spent your hard-earned money in had a security camera and allowed the police to ID and catch them. Then you realize that means the store catches you every time you go in as well. You start to wonder where else you’re being recorded. Chances are, you don’t even see the cameras. Partially because they are designed to be hidden or blend in with their surroundings, but also because of advancements in camera technology. Higher resolutions mean cameras can be farther away and still grab a good picture, and wireless capabilities along with microtechnology can make cameras so small they are barely noticeable.

Your internet browser is designed to make your life easy, but it also remembers information—like your address and even credit card numbers—when you fill in forms online. Stores track items you look at and then send you ads targeting the things you’ve been looking for. This is supposed to provide you with relevant content but it can be off-putting.

Even your cellphone is remembering what you do. If you have your location turned on, it remembers everywhere you go. This does not mean that your cell provider or anyone else is doing anything malicious with the information, but it is still being recorded. This also tends to be for ad purposes—companies want to target customers in an effective manner, so they might pay to find out who frequents their stores in order to target customers who will be most interested in a new product launch.

You can’t do much about security cameras when you are out and about, but for the most part, security cameras are there for your safety and for the store. Many stores don’t keep recorded video for long unless there is a crime committed, so there is no reason to think that there is a record of every single time you’ve walked into the neighborhood grocers. When you are using the internet, make sure you’re on a secure network. Use the private browser feature, install a tracking-blocker program like Ghostery, or you can opt-out of targeted ads on places like google and facebook. And as far as that omnipresent accessory goes, your cellphone, you have some options there as well. You can do things like turn off the location feature when you aren’t actively using it for GPS purposes, avoid ‘checking in’ to commercial locations or putting them in your social media status, and you can opt-out of targeted ad campaigns. Turning off the wireless will prevent you from being accidentally connected to unsecured wifi and prevents your phone from being “seen” by other networks.

Most people don’t realize how much they open themselves up to privacy invasions. They’re more concerned with the security cameras mentioned above out on the street than they are with the fact that they check in to their favorite eatery three times a week and post pictures online with the geolocation tags on. But if you are concerned, a few simple tweaks in your behavior and the settings on your electronics can go a long way.