Baylor’s Privacy Officer: Take These Seven Steps to Help Protect Online, Smartphone Information

  • Doug Welch, J.D., Baylor’s chief privacy officer (Robert Rogers, Baylor Marketing & Communications)
Jan. 28, 2020

Media Contact: Eric M. Eckert, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-710-1964
Follow Eric on Twitter: @EricBaylorU
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WACO, Texas (Jan. 28, 2020) – Baylor University is joining with the National Cyber Security Alliance to recognize global data privacy awareness during the annual Data Privacy Day (Jan. 28), an effort to raise awareness about data privacy, security and trust issues.

Doug Welch, J.D., Baylor’s chief privacy officer, says marketers and hackers are constantly looking for new ways to collect data. He said awareness and diligence regarding online and smartphone activity is essential, and he offers seven steps people can take to help protect their personal data.

“Ultimately, your privacy is your responsibility. Think twice before you share information,” Welch said. “Taking these steps will help to reduce the amount of information about you that gets shared. However, nothing will keep you completely anonymous.”

1. Turn off or limit location sharing on your smartphone apps.

“Some apps, like weather and maps, will not work properly without location sharing enabled,” Welch said. “For those, you might choose to share location only when using app. Others, such as e-readers and games, have no need for location except to collect your data.”

For an iPhone, there are several options for location-sharing settings: “Never,” “Ask,” “Only While Using” and “Always.” To adjust location sharing:

  • Go to Settings
  • Go to Privacy
  • Go to Location Services
  • At this point, there is a list of applications requesting to share location. Select the app and then select the appropriate level of sharing.

“While you are in the privacy settings, also tap on ‘Advertising’ at the bottom of the app list and then choose ‘limit ad tracking’ to opt out of receiving targeted ads,” Welch said.

For Android, users should:

  • Go to Settings
  • Go to Biometrics and Security
  • Go to App Permissions
  • Go to Location
  • Select an app from the list and choose desired permissions

“Disabling or restricting location sharing will not affect emergency calling when you dial 911,” Welch said.

Note: Steps might be different based on the device or operating system.

 

2. The most commonly used web browsers have a “private” mode. Use it. 

For Google Chrome’s “incognito mode,” take the following steps:

  • Click on menu
  • Select “new incognito window.”

For Safari’s “private browsing,” take the following steps:

  • Click file (dropdown menu)
  • Click New private window
  • On your iPhone or iPad, tap the double box in the lower right corner, then tap “Private” in the lower left corner

For Firefox’s “private browsing,” take the following steps:

  • Click menu
  • Click new private window

For Internet Explorer’s “InPrivate browsing,” take the following steps:

  • Click settings (the gear symbol)
  • Click safety
  • Click “InPrivate browsing”

 

3. Enable “Do Not Track” mode. 

“Do Not Track” settings send a signal to analytics companies, ad networks, plug-in providers and other web services to stop tracking your activity,” Welch said. “It is important to note, however, that this signal is completely voluntary and the services receiving it are free to ignore it. In addition, you may choose to use a non-tracking search service like DuckDuckGo, which promise not to collect or share your personal information.”

For Google Chrome users, take the following steps:

  • Go to Tools
  • Go to Settings
  • Go to Advanced Settings
  • Go to Privacy
  • Click “Send a Do Not Track Request”
  • Click “OK”

For Safari users, take the following steps

  • Go to Preferences
  • Go to Privacy
  • Click “Prevent Cross-Site Tracking”

For Firefox users:

  • Go to Preferences
  • Go to Privacy
  • Check the box “Use Tracking Protection In Private Windows”
  • Click “OK”
  • Click on “Manage your ‘do not track’ settings below”
  • Click the box “Always Apply Do Not Track” in the popup window
  • Click “OK”

For Internet Explorer users:

  • Go to Tools
  • Go to Safety
  • Go to Tracking Protection
  • Go to Personalized List
  • Click “Enable”

 

4. Manage your Google account settings. 

“If you have a Google account, you are sharing a lot of information unless you change your settings,” Welch said.

He recommends taking the following steps:

  • Log in to Google
  • Go to Home screen
  • Click “Manage your data and personalization”
  • On that screen, manage web and app activity, location history and YouTube history 

“While this will prevent future tracking and data gathering, it will not delete any data that you had shared with Google previously,” Welch said.

 

5. Turn off your microphone. 

“Voice assistants are listening to you and serving you ads through your social media accounts,” Welch said.

For iPhone users: 

  • Go to Settings
  • Go to Privacy
  • Go to Microphone
  • Select the apps that don’t need access to the microphone and turn them off

For Android users:

  • Go to Settings
  • Go to Biometrics and Security
  • Go to App Permissions
  • Go to Microphone
  • Select an app from the list and choose which permissions to allow

Note: Steps might be different based on the device or operating system.

 

6. Manage cookies on websites you visit and delete your browsing history and cookies on all your devices. 

“Cookies, pixels and web beacons are the primary tracking methods that internet marketers use to target you.  Removing previously loaded cookies and blocking new ones will go a long way to protecting third parties from collecting data on you,” Welch said.

 

7. Don’t create unnecessary accounts. 

“Many apps or services will offer discounts or specials if you create an account.  While you may realize some savings, you are allowing those services to build a profile on you that will not only be used to re-market you but may also be sold to other businesses who will target you with ads,” Welch said.

More information on privacy settings can be found at StaySafeOnline.org.  

 

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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