Privacy Tip #178 – Check and Set (and check and re-check) Your Privacy Settings
This was a particularly difficult travel week. In the past 36 hours, I have traveled on five planes in multiple cities (not always on the set itinerary due to diversions and mechanical issues) and the final leg of my travel home was “ground transportation” when my plane was diverted. Just so you know, when they mention “ground transportation” while you are sitting on a plane, it does not include a plane to your final destination. Ground transportation is when they drive you to your final destination, which today took longer than what the original flight should have taken. Okay, I admit that I am still a bit frustrated and could write a short story, but I will spare you that. As someone who tries to be “half-full,” I will tell you that the best parts of the bad travel over the past 32 hours were chatting with folks as we commiserated in the gate area about how difficult it is to travel these days, and my seatmates who wanted to strike up a conversation.
I can chat with the best of them, but sometimes I want to chat, and sometimes I don’t. In this particular case, I had lovely seatmates who were interesting and engaged and were just simply delightful. Of course, the conversation always comes to what we do for a living, and when I say I am a cybersecurity lawyer, the questions always start.
Ultimately, my conclusion, having chatted with numerous travel mates over the past 36 hours, is that no matter what your age, most people really don’t understand the privacy settings on their phone or their social media platforms. When I ask questions about who they have allowed access to their microphone, camera, and location, they say they don’t know. When we look at their privacy settings together, they are shocked to see the sea of green tracking dots and to learn that they have allowed so much access. And when I tell them not to leave their phone on next to their bed at night allowing all those apps to have access to their microphone and their “private affairs,” their eyes widen and their mouths form a silent “Oh.”
The tip this week is to continue to check and set your privacy settings—microphone, location services, camera, photos, Bluetooth sharing, contacts, health, motion, and fitness. If you click on those, as I periodically do, and there are numerous green dots showing just how many apps are tracking you, make a conscious decision about which ones you really want tracking you and which ones you don’t. And as I say to my kids— “Check and re-check” your decisions.