Take Charge of Your Privacy Settings on an iPhone or iPad

Last edited: June 24, 2019
Reading time: 5 minutes, 35 seconds

Apple products are stylish, easy to use, and capable of impressing even the most demanding users. The Apple App Store is screened rigorously for quality. Apple also ensures app makers aren’t exploiting your privacy without your knowledge. But apps can provide legitimate sounding reasons to access data on your phone. This data can reveal more about you than you wish. By understanding your privacy settings, you can safeguard your privacy and ensure your data remains secure.


Why Privacy Matters

Privacy settings iOS iPhonePerhaps the latest scandals showing companies abusing their use of private data have you concerned. Perhaps you are giving your child an iPhone or iPad and want to protect their privacy as they use the device. There are many good reasons for taking steps to guard your privacy while using an iPhone or iPad.

Most free services and apps make their profits by selling ads on their service. Advertisers pay more to show their ads to customers interested in their product. To cater to their needs, makers of apps and websites collect data about you as you use their service and sell this information to advertisers. Your data includes private information about medical issues, your children, income, and other sensitive data you might not willingly reveal.

Apple collects your data to keep it anonymous. But some companies will sell your information in ways that is traceable back to you. If this data is not secured, hackers can break in and steal the info. This can potentially cause embarrassment or even a feeling of violations when your information is revealed online.

Adjusting your privacy settings helps you take control of your information. It also adds a layer of security to prevent your information from being misused or stolen.


Adjust Your Location Settings

Location information can yield some of the most valuable information to advertisers or anyone else who has access to your data. Most data collected about you on your device involves only what you do while using your iPhone or iPad. Location data reveals what you do in the real world. The stores you frequent, when you go someplace new, and what time you go to a location reveals a lot about who you are and what your interests are.

Open ‘Settings’ and tap on ‘Privacy.’ Here you will find many useful settings you can adjust to protect your privacy. Find and tap on ‘Location Services’. Here you can select either individual apps to be allowed access to your location data or you can click the slider at the top of the screen to turn off location services for all apps on your iPhone or iPad.


Manage Apple Analytics

In older versions of iOS, Analytics was called ‘Diagnostics & Usage’. This area covers information that is shared with Apple from your device. Some of this data is useful to share and helps ensure Apple can keep your device running smoothly. Other data being transmitted may seem more intrusive. Transmitted data can include your health and activity data that you might not be comfortable sharing with Apple.

In the Settings app, tap ‘Analytics’. Choose the settings that you are not comfortable sharing and select the slider bar to turn off sharing of that information. This can include analytics data, data shared with app developers about app crashes and how you use their apps. Moreover, iCloud analytics that may include data gathered by Siri usage.


You Control App Permissions

When you install an app, it usually requests permission to access certain services from your phone. These services might include location, access to the microphone, access to other apps, your contacts, and connected devices. While an app may not have full functionality without access to all the services it requests, you are in charge of which services the app gets to use.

From the ‘Settings’ app, tap ‘Privacy’. There you can select each app and go through the permissions Click the slider beside each service or app to turn permission off or on.


Ad Tracking Is Key to Privacy

Most of your sensitive data is only shared for the purpose of advertising. Taking control of ad tracking is one of the key steps you can take to protect your privacy. Limiting ad tracking on iOS devices restricts how data can be used for advertising to you.

In the ‘Settings’ app tap on ‘Privacy’ again. Scroll down to ‘Advertising’. Click on the slider next to ‘Limit Ad Tracking’ to restrict how your data is used by advertisers. It should be noted that this does not eliminate ad tracking, it only limits it. To further enhance your privacy, tap on ‘Reset Advertising Identifier’. Doing so will eliminate the information already tagged to your personal ID.

More information on how iOS uses your information to customize ads for you is available under ‘View Ad Information’. This will show the information iOS uses to help target advertising to you personally.


Safari Do Not Track

safari logoWebsites often track the site you come from and the site you go to after visiting them. If that site partners with other advertisers such as Twitter or Facebook, they can share the information with them. Your activity helps build a more complete profile of your interests and activities online. It is possible on iOS devices, to limit the amount of tracking that occurs as you browse the web using Safari.

In the ‘Settings’ app, tap on ‘Safari’ and look through the ‘Privacy and Security’ section. Here you can choose to block cookies on your device, and ‘Ask Websites Not To Track Me’. This will limit most websites’ tracking of your IP address.


Gaining Even More Privacy

Tightening your privacy settings is a good step towards ensuring your privacy online. Many people also prefer the security of knowing their information is more anonymous, especially while using online services and websites. Sadly, only changing your privacy settings isn’t a watertight protection of your privacy. To truly attempt to stay anonymous online, you might want to get a VPN.

VPN connectionWhen connecting with a quality VPN, your information is encrypted and sent to a remote server. All your traffic goes through the VPN server, instead of directly from you to the website or app. This helps keep information about your location and web activities anonymous. A quality VPN is easy to use and enhances your privacy online.

A VPN can also provide the added benefits of avoiding geographic limitations for streaming video services. You may also use a VPN to work around firewalls installed at your work. Because the data is encrypted, you have the peace of mine of knowing that only you know what you are doing online. Learn more about why a VPN might be a good choice for you.

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