Taking ActionConsumer Reports


Consumer Reports: Privacy under threat

Posted at 7:27 AM, Oct 25, 2016

Whenever you go online, your every move is being tracked -- and you have no idea what happens to all that information.

More than 60 percent of Americans consider unauthorized digital tracking very intrusive, according to a survey from Consumer Reports. But it has advice to help you take control of your personal information.

It can be creepy when you search for a medical condition online and then a related ad pops up on your screen.

“It’s called digital tracking. It happens all the time," Jerry Beilinson, Chief Electronics Editor of Consumer Reports, said. "And we just think that companies should be able, in simple language, to tell you what information is being collected and how it’s being used.”

There are four easy steps you can take to limit digital tracking.

First, install an ad blocker, such as Privacy Badger. It blocks ads that come with tracking software.

Then, check your phone settings to see which apps are tracking your location, and turn off any that don’t need to know.

Next, if you visit an unfamiliar website that demands your email, go to a site like 10minutemail.com, where you can get a functioning email that

self- destructs after you use it.

And finally, be cautious of Google.

“As you use Google, it is just collecting a tremendous amount of information about you, and it does that no matter where you go online if you use Google search, Google maps, go to YouTube, using Gmail," Beilinson said.

You can see just how much Google tracks if you look under “My account” and then “My activity.”

There are alternative search engines like DuckDuckGo that don’t track their users.

If you want to stick with Google search, you can tweak the settings. You can delete the records of what you search and the YouTube videos you watch.

Click here for more Consumer Reports tips for protecting your privacy.