Google has come under increasing scrutiny for its violation of privacy laws and mishandling user data. It already got a fine of $57 million for violating the recently enacted General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe. For the most part, the company has been upfront about its data collection policies. You can opt-out from the program by going to your settings, although this may affect app functionality depending on what you disable.
There are a few quick ways to change your Google settings for the better. This article covers that and adds more tips on how to improve your privacy online.
If you want to remove your data from Google Chrome, go to your web and app activity. Click your picture in the Chrome toolbar and select Manage Your Google Account.
You have an option to give your privacy a tune-up. It is an easy way to go through essential settings.
- Web & App Activity
- Location History
- Voice and Audio Recording
- YouTube History
You can then configure your Ad Preferences (for your sake, remove ad personalization) and a few other settings. You may need to experiment a little and see how it affects your experience. Turning everything off can be annoying, especially for anything map related. But you might want to limit data collection or periodically delete data.
Click here to set up automatic delete for stored data or to disable all features mentioned above.
Now you should check your YouTube settings. Here you can review everything and remove recommendations based on your search history. It is one example where you may want to keep things as is because you lose a good deal of YouTube functionality by disabling this.
Though removing Shared Endorsement should be a quick yes. Shared Endorsements show your Google Reviews when people search for a business. If you don’t want to endorse a business openly, you can turn off Shared Endorsement here.
Now it’s time to remove trackers and other things that have been piling up and keeping an eye on your activities. Cookies help web pages load faster. But in the era of high-speed WiFi, every now and then, you should clear them out for your privacy. The same goes for other browsing data.
While you’re doing this, you should also review account settings. It’s best to disable third-party cookies, remove auto-fill data, and take other steps to remove personalization further. Review and delete your activity here. It’s a good idea to do this about once a month.
Did you get your Google Account and Chrome privacy settings straightened out? Then it’s time to take the next steps and secure your internet connection.
It doesn’t matter if you use Chrome or another browser to surf the web. It’s easy for hackers, advertisers, big companies, governments, internet service providers, and cybercriminals to track your online activity. If you want to limit such tracking, get a VPN.
What is a VPN? A VPN stands for a virtual private network. Using the latest encryption technology, it secures and anonymizes your internet connection. Nobody can intercept your data and track your IP address to see what you’re doing.
With a VPN, you can browse the internet much more privately. It gives third-parties fewer ways to track your activity back to you, especially if you follow the strategies from above. To maximize the privacy and security benefits of a VPN, you should also make sure you’ve signed out of Google when using Chrome. And don’t log in to any of your accounts unless you need to.
You’ve already made radical progress in increasing your privacy. Removing personalization will be a small compromise in performance but a huge push for your peace of mind. Though you can still take a few more steps to increase your security.
You should use two-factor authentication (2FA), biometrics, and password managers to safeguard your accounts. And don’t forget to configure all your other devices with these modified settings and tools. It will create the comprehensive protection you need to preserve your privacy from Google and everyone else trying to keep an eye on you.