There’s a popular keyboard shortcut <Control><Alt><Delete> that, generally speaking, interrupts or facilitates interrupting a function. For example, if a program on your computer hangs or crashes, you press this popular combination to force the program to close.
Today I’m coining a new term, <Control><Alt><Google>. In a nutshell, you can now tell Google to delete the data (or history) it has on / about you. In this post I want to cover three items: 1) What data is stored, 2) Why you should care about deleting it and 3) How to tell Google to delete your data.
What data does Google store (courtesy of my friends at Lifehacker)?
Web and app history. This includes voice and audio data from Google assistant and other apps; data collected from apps synced to your Google account; all Chrome browsing history.
YouTube search and watch histories
Google Maps history and GPS location data
Why should I care about deleting this information?
A more tangible reason is that deleting your data is helpful for up-to-date content (and ad) curation. People change, our tastes evolve, and periodically deleting your outdated content history is like giving your YouTube, Google Play, or even Google Podcast recommendations a refresh based on your current interests.
Deleting it means Google doesn’t always have enough information about you to make recommendations on what it thinks you’ll like, or where you might want to go. CNBC
Click “Activity controls” from the left-hand sidebar.
Scroll down to the data type you wish to manage, then select “Manage Activity.”
On this next page, click on “Choose how long to keep” under the calendar icon.
Select the auto-deletion time you wish (three or 18 months), or you can choose to delete your data manually.
Click “Next” to save your changes.
Repeat the steps above for each of the types of data you want to be auto-deleted, the three noted above (Web and app history, YouTube search and watch histories and Google Maps history and GPS location data). For your Location History in particular, you’ll need to click on “Today” in the upper-left corner first, and then click on the gear icon in the lower-right corner of your screen.
Then, select “Automatically delete Location History,” and pick a time.
What is https and why should you care? That’s the topic for today’s post!
HTTPS is a protocol for secure communication, widely used on the Internet. When you enter data into website (i.e name, address, credit card number), the owner of the website has to “send” this information somewhere for processing. HTTP on the other hand is a unsecure protocol for communication.
Let’s use an analogy to illustrate: if an armed guard needs to transfer money from his truck to a bank, he could simply put the money in a paper bag that anyone can open (think HTTP), or he can put the cash in a safe that only the bank has the combination to unlock (think HTTPS).
HTTPS is the protection of exchanged data while in transit.wikipedia
HTTPS is not 100% foolproof because keys/combinations can always be hacked; but, when you see this designation on a website you can be a little more sure protection in is place.
Feel smarter? If you know to look for HTTPS before entering personal data into a website, I’d say you are!
Before we get to who Zo is, let’s talk about the app she resides in, GroupMe.
GroupMe is a mobile group messaging app owned by Microsoft, similar to What’s App or a simple group chat on your phone; but, only a little more sophisticated with features like creating events or polls. Zo is a social AI (artificial intelligence) chat bot (or robot of sorts) that is automatically added to your contact list by Microsoft.
When added to a group, Zo will have access to your display name, messages, and any other content you and other members of the group share. GroupMe
Did you get that??? It’s a “person” who can read everything that you or others in your group chat post. You can remove this “spy” using the following steps:
Open the GroupMe app on your phone.
Click the menu bar at the top left of the app (it looks like 3 horizontal lines)
Search for “Zo” or scroll down to locate her.
Click on her name.
Select Block. The contact should then look like the screenshot below.
Remember, somebody is always watching… 👀👀👀 especially in FREE apps/services!
I saw this story online this morning and was shocked; but, not surprised! Here’s the crux: “If you allow Target to track your phone location, the app will switch certain prices from online to in-store.” (kare11) Watch the sneakiness in action below (16 seconds) then come back for tips on how to stop this from happening.
Think of the switching point like an invisible dog fence. Once you cross it (and enter Target’s vicinity) the price shown for a particular item (even if you Google it in store); will automatically adjust to the higher “in store” price. In some cases the prices per item can be DRASTIC $100+).
KARE 11 did an experiment to see if all of this is true. They looked at 10 different products and compared the prices offered on the Target app when they were away from the store and prices on the app when they entered the store. Between all 10 of the items, it would have saved them $262 to purchase these items from the back of the parking lot as opposed to purchasing them while in the store. $262! One of the products they looked at, a Dyson vacuum, jumped $148 after entering the store.
How to stop this from happening? Turn off Target’s ability to track your location. If you’re an iPhone user, go to Settings ==> Privacy ==> Location Services ==> Target (set this value to Never). While you’re at it, turn everything else you don’t need off as well. Sure, it can be convenient to find the nearest store, etc. but as we can see with this story, these features may come at an expense. If you’ve purchased any large items from Target lately, take advantage of their price match policy (14 days) to see if you can save a few bucks. Best Buy, Macy’s, Best Buy and Wal-Mart’s apps don’t currently do this. Also keep in mind the price difference could be the other way around. If you’re purchasing large items, do your research!!!
In the last few days, several reports have emerged outlining steps the United States Federal Government is taking in realm of (personal) technology. These accounts are in line with what I recently told you in a post about Smart Speakers. When it comes to technology, privacy/security trumps EVERYTHING and the three (3) reports below are proof that the contentious convergence of government and technology is here to stay.
Here’s what you need to know:
Amazon, Google, Microsoft… Selling face-snooping tech to the Feds (The Register)
Why should you care? More than 85 advocacy groups focused on a diverse set of social issues, including racial justice, religious liberty, civil rights, human rights, and immigrant rights have raised concerns about this practice, including the ACLU.
“History has clearly taught us that the government will exploit technologies like face surveillance to target communities of color, religious minorities, and immigrants.”
Feds Can’t Force You To Unlock Your iPhone…. With Finger Or Face (Forbes)
Why should you care? The judge says all logins are equal. In the past, they couldn’t force you to give up your pass code, now fingerprints, facial recognition (or other future innovations… i.e. voice) are also included. Forcing you to do this could be the equivalent of forcing you to self incriminate.
“If a person cannot be compelled to provide a pass code because it is a testimonial communication, a person cannot be compelled to provide one’s finger, thumb, iris, face, or other biometric feature to unlock that same device,” the judge wrote.
Feds to allow drones to to fly over crowds at night… and make routine night flights (ABC)
Why should you care? Rogue drones have been used to carry bombs on battlefields, to deliver contraband to prisoners, to interfere with firefighters and, last month, to cripple the operations of a major airport.
Last year, Congress approved a measure that will let the government develop a system to identify and hack or shoot down drones that authorities deem threatening.
Do these statements make you feel safe?
“Drones can collect massive amounts of sensitive data from people and can be equipped with facial recognition technology as well as license plate reading software”
Suzette Kemp is the Federal Government’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) appointed by President Donald Trump. The federal CIO is charged with driving government wide technology policy, leading the federal CIO Council and often putting out unexpected IT fires. She has recently said her office is crafting legislation to provide the government with “guardrails” for how to incorporate the technologies and ensure they don’t possess bias that runs counter to the mission of agencies (FedScoop).