To understand what personal data your Android collects does, it's crucial to remember that this mobile operating system is built by Google. Google's business model relies on gathering as much data from you as possible. Your precise geographical location, browsing history, activity on apps and websites (especially ones using Google services), your Gmail usage – nothing is sacred.  

Google is gathering specific personal information about you, which includes names and phone numbers of your contacts, payment information for purchases you make through Google, emails you send and receive, stored videos, photos, documents, spreadsheets and even the comments you post underneath YouTube videos.

Google also keeps constant track of the search terms you entered, your Chrome browsing history, the videos you watched, the ads you viewed and interacted with. If you use Google to make calls or text, then Google also knows the times and dates of your calls and texts, call durations, routing information and the types of calls you made. Also tracked are the passwords you are using and the permissions you’re granting to websites, cookies or data from other websites you have visited, data saved by your Chrome add-ons, even a record of the files you have downloaded from websites.  

How to check which data is collected by your Android?

To check what activity data is being stored on Google’s servers, open “My Activity” in your browser. Of course, this will not show you all of the kinds of data Google is collecting from you, but it will give you a general idea (and perhaps a shudder or two).

How to know you can trust an app with your data?

Most app builders fail to adequately inform their users what kind of data they collect from them and how they process them. This is the main reason why users should use their awareness as a weapon for data protection. Always choose a company that is transparent about the data they collect, how they process it, and offer some value in return. Avoid companies fail to inform their customers about the data they gather and can’t provide any value to their customers.  

However, please keep in mind that any company out there, no matter the size, is vulnerable to a security breach of its database which can occur at any point in the future. As long as your data is stored on any company’s servers, it is not safe from leaking out and, sooner or later, possibly finding its way into the hands of a malicious entity. To put things in perspective, a whopping 46% of U.S. companies suffered a data breach in 2018 alone.

What to look for in a privacy policy  

A good privacy policy states in simple language how a website or a company collects, processes and shares your personal data. A company should also notify its’ users of what kind of personal information they collect. For example, they can collect your name, location, email address, even your credit number. A good privacy policy should include details about how a company will use and protect your personal data.

The most crucial points in every privacy policy that are:

  • Will they give your data to any third parties? See if you have some wiggle room to opt out of the app/service provider’s ability to sell your data to third parties.
  • Will you be notified of any changes to the policy? If the service or app developer is bought by another company, or if they make any changes to the policy, is it your right as a consumer to know?  
  • Do they delete your data after a maximum amount of time? Most services may keep your data for a set amount of time, but what happens to your data if you cancel or deactivate your account?
  • What type of information do they collect? Give them the least amount of info about you. The required fields will usually be marked with an asterisk. Don’t offer anything extra other than what is required.
  • Are they using Secure Socket Layers? SSL is an industry-standard form of securing personal data. It means your data is being transferred in an encrypted format and cannot be read by third parties during transmission.
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