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The Internet can be a frightening place. Beyond hackers and intruders, legitimate businesses are spying on you. Your personal information is very valuable, but it can also be embarrassing or incriminating. Recent court decisions have ruled that your internet usage data can be handed over to authorities without a warrant. Private information leaks can also lead to obnoxious junk mail and telemarketing calls. This article provides tips for improving privacy on your iPhone, but also apply to the iPad and iPod Touch. We’ll explore privacy options for the iOS operating system, web browsing, email and apps.
iOS privacy settings are conveniently centralized under Settings > Privacy. From this view, you can change privacy settings for iOS as well as your apps. You have both global and fine-grained control over your personal information.
Location Services allow iOS and apps to pinpoint your geographical location. This comes in handy when an app needs to figure out where you are. It also enables features such as geofences, which can fire off an event when you are in a certain location. For example, when you leave work, you can have an alert remind you to pick up groceries on the way home.
You can toggle location services globally and for individual apps by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. Turning these off may impair the functionality of apps. For example, your Chipotle app will no longer be able to point you to the nearest restaurant. Any app that has used location services in the past 24 hours will have a grey arrow icon next to it. A solid purple icon means that an app has recently used location services. Apps using a geofence are indicated with the outline of a purple arrow.
You can drill down one level into System Services by tapping the label at the bottom of the Location Services screen. From here, you can control location services accessed by core systems of your iOS device. I strongly recommend turning on the status bar icon. This will show a Location Services icon in the status bar whenever an app or service uses the feature.
Privacy settings for Contacts determine which apps have access to your contacts. You can toggle these on or off for each app. The remainder of iOS Privacy settings are self-explanatory. For each setting, you can choose which apps have access to this data. All of these privacy settings are in this central location.
The ability to limit ad tracking was introduced in iOS 6. When you use your iOS device, your activities are tracked and sent to advertisers. This is done anonymously, however some may want to limit this capability. To do so, go to Settings > General > About > Advertising and turn on “Limit Ad Tracking”. Unfortunately, this does not block all ad tracking, but only limits it, as the name implies. (continue…)