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The greatest breach of your privacy may be through your smartphone. But there are plenty of ways you can limit all the spying!

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Signal offers end-to-end encryption of your messages

If you’re interested in protecting the privacy of what you send in your messaging, check out Signal.

This free app for Android, iOS and as a desktop add-on for the Google Chrome browser offers end-to-end encryption.

In lay terms, that means the messages that travel over its servers are encrypted to the point that even Signal itself can’t read them!

Signal doesn’t store any messages or address books on its servers. It only retains the time of your last server connection and the date when you opened your account.

The New York Times loves Signal, but it did note a couple of glitches in the free app.

Those glitches include synchronizing data between computers and smartphones. There is reportedly a few minutes of lag time between the two.

Another limitation is that Signal does not yet support multiple mobile devices. It only works on one mobile device at a time, so you can’t use it on both a phone and a tablet.

More ways to limit tracking by advertisers and marketers

Phones are are a gold mine for people looking to track you, dissect who are and sell to you. You have to go back to using a feature phone (i.e. a ‘dumb’ phone that doesn’t connect to the Internet) if you want to avoid data miners!


Yet there are ways to limit the surveillance even with the latest technology. (Special thanks to Kim Komando and her USA Today article for this info.)

For iPhone

Settings > Privacy > Advertising

Where it says ‘Limit ad tracking,’ be sure you’re seeing a green color. If not, just slide the button so that you are.

Look also for ‘Reset Advertising Identifier’ below that. Tap it to reset your ad ID with a new random number. That will make it more difficult for advertisers to track you too.

For Android

Go to your Google Settings app > Ads

Click ‘Opt out of interest-based as,’ which will instruct apps not to use your advertising ID to build profiles or show you interest-based ads.

You’ll also want to select the ‘Reset advertising ID’ right below it. Much like with the Apple example above, this will make it more difficult for advertisers to track you.

For Windows

Visit Microsoft’s ad opt-out page and click ‘Off’ under ‘Personalize ads whenever I use my Microsoft account.’ Be sure you’re signed in with the same Windows account you use on your phone when you do this.

Using a private, no-track search engine

The reality is that you ignore the online trail that you leave behind at your own risk. Consider this: The #1  weapon for divorce lawyers in contentious cases is requesting disclosure of email and search history,  as well as who you ‘friend’ on social media.

If you want to avoid leaving a trail, try doing your searches through a popular search tool called DuckDuckGo. You can also install the DuckDuckGo app on your iPhone or Android device. It delivers cleaner search results with fewer advertisements and does not record your searches.


DuckDuckGo was started by a fellow named Gabe Weinberg. Weinberg thought it was crazy that ads pop up on Google so prominently and they track you everywhere you go and then serve you more ads based on what you search. He just wanted a straight, clean search and that’s what he developed.

For other no-track search options, The New York Times also recommends Private Lee, Qrobe.it, IxQuick and Disconnect Search.

Read more: AT&T agrees to $88 million refund for victims of mobile cramming

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