Consumer Reports: Protect your privacy online

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Privacy under threat (WLS)

Whenever you go online, your every move is being tracked and you have no idea what happens to all that information.

More than 60 percent of Americans consider unauthorized digital tracking very intrusive, according to a survey from Consumer Reports. It has advice to help you take control of your personal information.

It can be creepy when you search for a medical condition online and then a related ad pops up on your screen.

"It's called digital tracking. It happens all the time. We just think that companies should be able, in simple language, to tell you what information is being collected and how it's being used," said Jerry Beilinson, Chief Electronics Editor, Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports' latest issue has page after page of advice for protecting your privacy.

Here are four easy steps you can take to limit digital tracking.

First, install an ad blocker, such as Privacy Badger. It blocks ads that come with tracking software.

Second, check your phone settings to see which apps are tracking your location, and turn off any that don't need to know.

Third, if you visit an unfamiliar website that demands your email, go to a site like 10minutemail.com, where you can get a functioning email that self- destructs after you use it.

Finally, be cautious of Google.

"As you use Google, it is just collecting a tremendous amount of information about you, and it does that no matter where you go online if you use Google search, Google maps, go to YouTube, using Gmail," Beilinson said.

You can see just how much Google tracks if you look under "My account" and then "My activity."

There are alternative search engines like DuckDuckGo that don't track their users.

If you want to stick with Google search, you can tweak the settings. You can delete the records of what you search and the YouTube videos you watch.

Consumer Reports has "66 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Right Now" at www.ConsumerReports.org.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2016. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
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