It’s 1984, and the government is watching you — sorry, I mean it’s 2016, and big data is watching you. The Big Brother we always imagined showing up on television, newspapers and billboards has come much closer to home than we could have ever imagined. He’s actually in our pockets!
As you know, Android is developed by what may as well be the king of data collectors. Google has become an information giant like no other. The nature of the beast is different than books or movies would have led us to believe: “Big Brother” is mostly out to make a buck.
The real question is thus: Is your device ready to handle Big Brother?
Feel Like You’re Being Watched?
In truth, you pretty much are. Wherever you go, whatever you do, someone or something is keeping tabs on you. Since pretty much all of us own a smartphone, we’re all being tracked by our activities on a daily basis.
Android reports to Google, the manufacturer of the device, your service provider and a long list of apps about the things you do each day. Every website you visit, every page you like and every message you send is being saved somewhere.
But Big Brother has very little interest in you; he’s interested in selling you more stuff. He wants to know how you shop and what you shop for so he can tailor his ads and products to squeeze out a few extra dollars. It’s almost flattering—a faceless conglomerate of companies all coming together to answer your every desire.
So what do you do? Give up, put on a tinfoil hat, move out to the mountains, and take up hunting? I should say not!
Keeping Your Interests Private
If you want to keep what you do on your Android to yourself, start using services that help make that possible. Use Mozilla to browse the web instead of Chrome or the default browser; they don’t track what you do if you ask them not to. Log out of services you aren’t using.
If you turn off your location when you aren’t using GPS or other location-based services, your daily “route” isn’t going to show everywhere you’ve been. If you really want to keep the internet out of your business, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt everything you do. It’s the same as putting a lock on something, except the lock has never been broken (or hacked in this case).
A VPN also hides your IP address (what sites and services use to identify you with). Ever get an ad that was advertising something local? That’s because anything you access reads your IP and knows where you are.
Less Dramatic Than the Movies
For better or worse, the real Big Brother isn’t nearly as interesting as we see on the silver screen. Dealing with intrusions on your digital life takes a little getting used to, but it isn’t impossible. Sure there’s some information you can’t avoid sharing, but isn’t it like that even without smartphones?
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