The secret your cellphone company doesn’t want you to know
Recently, AT&T surprised everyone when it added a new option to its GigaPower fiber Internet service: privacy. Yes, for just $29 more a month, AT&T promises it WON’T sell your search and browsing history to advertisers. How generous.
While there’s still some doubt about how private your information is even after you pay the $29, at least AT&T is being honest about how it finances operations. The truth is, the major cellphone carriers are more than happy to sell your information to advertisers and serve you targeted ads over their networks.
If you’re an iPhone user, go into Settings, and then tap Privacy. Scroll all the way down to Advertising.
You’ll see a button that says “Limit ad tracking.” Slide this button to make it green. This will stop ad companies from tracking what you do with your phone and from serving up targeted ads.
Right underneath that setting, by the way, you’ll see the “Reset Advertising Identifier” option. Tapping on that will zero out the anonymized identifier linked to your personal data on Apple’s servers.
In other words, to trackers you’ll appear to be a new user. This can make it more difficult (but not impossible) for advertisers to build up a profile on how you browse.
To turn off the Google “AdID” system, do NOT go to your Android phone settings. Go instead to your Google Settings app. (You may have to look under your full list of apps to find it.)
Once you’re in Google Settings, tap the Ads link and then tap “Opt out of interest-based ads.” You can also see your advertising ID and tap “Reset advertising ID” to make a new one. This will make you look like a new user to advertisers.
Ads aren’t the only way you’re tracked on your phone. Google and Apple might be tracking your searches. Use this search app instead to make private searches.
To turn off Personalized ads in Windows Phone, go to Microsoft’s ad opt-out page, and under “Personalize ads whenever I use my Microsoft account,” click “Off.”
You will need to be signed in with a Windows account to do this. Make sure you sign in with the same account you use on your Windows Phone. This also turns off personalized ads for Internet Explorer in Windows 8.