Those of us with a few more years under our belts have adopted a handful of adages to help us get through the changes in life. Things like, “There is no free lunch” help us to inspect more closely anything without a price tag. Here’s another; “In a capitalist world everyone is out to get your money.”
Every store or gadget maker wants you to buy from them vs. anyone else, right? Even a boss works diligently to keep employee pay as low as possible. How about this one? “If everyone is out to get you, a little paranoia sounds like the right attitude to have.” A few decades into the information superhighway has made it apparent that we are tracked far more than we may imagine.
What can we do about it? How can we stop online trackers?
The very nature of 21st century life indicates that information about us is being gathered by many sources and sold in sufficient quantity that it’s likely everyone who uses electricity has a dozen or more dossiers stored on various databases; many steps beyond Google, Facebook, and others.
My experience and understanding of what goes on, both in public, and behind the scenes tells me that such personal tracking– some would call it stalking– is more pervasive and profitable than ever, and it may reach a point where government intervention is probable; although governments might like to gather such information themselves.
How can you stop online trackers?
First, get off the grid; jump offline. If you’re online anywhere then someone is tracking what you do and it’s next to impossible to prevent it. Yes, tracking is that pervasive.
Second, if you choose to stay online, there are steps you can take to minimize trackers, but it may be too late already anyway. How so? Every device you use to connect online, and nearly every application you’ve used in recent years has been phoning home with data culled from you, your whereabouts, your devices; and all that data gets sifted, shifted, and shared with others in so many ways that any notion you have of privacy is almost an act of lunacy.
What are the steps?
The basics may help to minimize some of the trackers, but not eliminate their habits. Use a VPN wherever possible. Even ISPs collect data about your online habits and monetize it. Use a browser instead of an application for Facebook and other social media. Their applications capture data and use it to manipulate with advertising and content. A browser with an ad blocker and tracker blocker, combined with a VPN, can reduce some data pilferage.
For iPhone and iPad users, Apple has Settings which can reduce stalking. Open Settings, select Privacy, and tap through each app and its settings– for those apps that gather data from Apple’s apps, and those apps which use Location Services. It’s a tedious exercise, but mostly set it and forget it.
Some apps may need location services (maps, cameras, weather, etc.) but not all do. Many apps ask for permission but have no need for the data other than their own need for revenue. For Mac users I recommend using Little Snitch to selectively prevent applications from phoning home with your data.
If you’re online you cannot stop trackers, but you can minimize their efforts to collect more data from you.