Controlling your online privacy on Android and PC

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I always like to be in control of things that I can control. I would hate for some things that dominate me. I am no control freak. That goes for my emotions, finance, situations that I can control, behaviour and my Redmi Note 4 Android Smartphone.

Why am I suddenly talking about control? That’s because if it is the other way around – I believe you become a slave to it. It controls you. I am no expert, so this is my take on it, nonetheless.

Let me take a simple example. When was the last time you were angry? Were you only angry the last time? Did your emotions compel you to act and react on impulse? I won’t be talking about emotional self-control here. 

Cautions on Online Privacy:

I am a private person. I love my privacy and hate intrusions be it online or offline. These days it pays to be cautious and well informed about how your privacy concerns you. If you are worried about it, then you must act fast. 

Things online are easier to control. You can restrict location and notification access on your PC browser. 

When it comes to browsers, I do not use chrome. I use Firefox because I have greater control. For instance, I have a third party cookie blocker, especially for Facebook. Firefox informs me with a badge whenever it blocks something. I timely clean my temporary files, search and browser history.

The only thing my PC lacks is powerful Total Security software. My eyes are on Kaspersky Total Security – this is not an endorsement but rather a choice over the rest. My current system runs Avast Free Antivirus. It isn’t much but as long as it works, who am I complain!

I also have Spybot Search and Destroy for added security. It is again a free version. 

Disable your web activity on Google is another step to prevent tracking. It is not foolproof, I know. I have also not set my default location on Google Maps for two reasons: 

  • I do not use it that often
  • I did not want my location details stored in maps.

I am sure Google already knows my location. I did not want to make it obvious. Call me a little paranoid!

When you disable your web activity, the only things Google tells you that this is will deny you a personalised experience! I have this to say to Google F#$!! personalised experience!

Ask yourself why do you need a personalised experience? I don’t. When I need to look for anything, whether online or offline, I Google it. Google anyway has reliable information. People like you and me curate such information.  

Google may know a few things about me. Maybe they know lots. The least I can do is prevent revealing further information to Google.

Bottom Line

Understanding your phone: 

Permissions in android are required for your app to work. For instance, if you are using a photo or video editing app, that app needs permission to access your storage to store your work. It will also need access to your gallery so that you can load photos or videos into the app. However, these apps do not need access to your location and phone id.

A good example is the calculator on my phone needs internet access. Why? I disabled it. It still works fine.

Some apps do not need access. You must understand this. The only way you can find out is by going through the permissions. Disable the permissions with which you are not okay. If it is needed, the app will say so. It will also give you a warning that it may affect the app’s functionality. As long as it works fine, I would strongly urge you to disable it. 

Disabling the auto-update feature of the Play Store also helps. Android comes with lots of bloatware that I have never used. The only apps I use every time are YouTube – I use it both on the phone and PC. Maps – when I visit a place for the very first time or travelling long distances by car. Google Drive because my projects depend on it.

I have stopped using chrome. My reason for only using it on the phone was because it is pre-installed. On the PC, I use Firefox. Workplace - Chrome because I don't have a choice! 

There are tons of other pre-installed apps that I don’t use. I don’t use Google Duo, Hangouts, Play Music, Gmail, etc. I have a Gmail account, but I don’t use the default app to access mails. I use the Yahoo Mail app and have integrated all my Gmail accounts.

Privacy that can’t be helped: 
Social media is sometimes a pain! I do not use Facebook that often. I do tweet, Koo and Instagram from time to time. My motive is to promote my work, and that defines my usage. 

Bottom line

I don’t post things about my life. I visit to check out videos, news and other updates. Birthdays are one aspect where Facebook is very helpful. I can wish my close friends a happy birthday when remembering all of them can be challenging. 

I never reveal my location or travel info online. Luckily, my wife isn’t a Facebook fanatic either. She does post special occasions online. I am fine with that.  

Some of the apps out there and not just necessarily social media apps need permission to function. Whatsapp, for example, requires access to location, storage, gallery, etc. Even with the recent changes to their privacy policy, I had no choice to accept the terms and conditions only because of my office group. An official workgroup exists where I interact with the team and offer my help. 

If I had the choice, I would happily uninstall Whatsapp! Unfortunately, that’s not the case and not something that you can overlook easily.

Most of the time, it is the commonsense approach that would greatly help. Don't do things that may unnecessarily put you or your near and dear ones at risk. Not revealing your location can also help immensely. Call me paranoid. Not even my best friend needs to know which restaurant I am visiting. What I ate and where did I go is not of anybody's concern nor business. 

If anything of my photos on Instagram interests anyone, they can either call or Whatsapp me if they have my phone number or even comment. So what purpose does revealing your locations online help? Don’t ask me!

The less you reveal of yourself online, the lesser your information will be available online. That’s what I believe. If you think otherwise, please, you are most welcome to correct me in the comments. 

I am a blogger, YouTuber and Indie Music Producer navigating my way through a massive sea of words, games and soundwaves!

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