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Consumer Advice
True privacy on the web at the click of a mouse
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True privacy on the web at the click of a mouse

True privacy on the web at the click of a mouse

True privacy on the web at the click of a mouse

Clark Howard is a nationally syndicated consumer advice expert

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Are you concerned with all the discussion about online tracking by the government and private industry? There are some simple steps you can take to limit it.

The use of cookies to track your web browsing and serve up relevant ads is one of the easiest things to stop. For example, Firefox has   Do Not Track capability  that you can easily activate in their browser.

Ad Block Plus
, a browser "add-on" designed to remove many ads from your browser display, can also help disable online tracking  as you’re web-surfing, and it’s available for most major browsers.

But if you really want to stop the browsers from tracking you, you'll want to take the following steps, courtesy of  The New York Times .

 

REMOVE AND DISABLE YOUR SEARCH HISTORY

GOOGLE

  1. Go to Google.com/history and log in to your Google account.
  2. Click the gear icon in the upper right and select 'Settings.'  
  3. Click the 'Turn Off' button. As an additional step, be sure to click the 'delete all' and 'recent activity' links.
  4. You can also opt out of targeted and search ads on the web and in Gmail by going to Google.com/settings/ads.

BING

  1. Go to Bing.com/profile/history.
  2. Click both the 'turn off' and 'clear all' buttons in the upper right corner.

YAHOO

  1. Go to Search.Yahoo.com/preferences.
  2. Select 'search history off.'

 

USE A PRIVATE, NO-TRACK SEARCH ENGINE

Ignore the online trail that you leave behind at your own risk.  I recently learned that the #1  weapon fordivorce lawyers in contentious cases is requesting disclosure of e-mail and search history,  as well as who you "friend" on social media.

If you want to avoid leaving a trail, you can do your searches through a popular new search tool called  DuckDuckGo .

Since 2013 I've been using this tool instead of Google. It delivers cleaner search results with fewer advertisements and does not record your searches.

DuckDuckGo was started by 33-year-old Gabe Weinberg. Weinberg thought it was crazy that ads pop up on Google so prominently and they track you everywhere you go and then serve you more ads based on what you search. He just wanted a straight, clean search, and that's what he developed. With no real business model, he's still trying to figure out how to make real money from this creation. But the use of this non-tracking search tool has exploded in recent months.

For other no-track search options, The New York Times also recommends  Private Lee Qrobe.it IxQuick , and  Disconnect Search .

STOP TRACKING ON YOUR PHONE

In reality, the greatest breach of your privacy may be through smartphones. They are a gold mine for people looking to track you, dissect who are, and sell to you. In fact, you have to go back to using a feature phone if you want to avoid data miners! But there is a way to limit the surveillance.

Simply go to  SmartStorePrivacy.org  and you can opt out of this mobile tracking. Not every player in the tracking business is on board with this privacy initiative, but many of the bigger ones are.

Just click Take Me to Opt Out, enter both your WiFi MAC address and Bluetooth address and then you're opted out. Full instructions on how to determine your MAC and Bluetooth address are also available.

You can also install the DuckDuckGo app on your iPhone or Android device.

 

CONCLUSION

If you really want to go off the grid, use a feature phone like an older flip-phone; use cash instead of credit or debit; and don’t surf the web.

There are less extreme ways to mitigate and limit tracking too. For example, you might segregate your emails and/or browsers -- one e-mail for social media, another for e-commerce, another for news and info sites, etc.

You do have choices if you want to take some control. It’s only a question of how much control you want to take…

Melissa King, a  Savings.com  DealPro, lives in Savannah, GA. She enjoys "Paying It Forward"  in her community. Check her out on her blog at  ThisMommySavesMoney.com .

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News

  • A 22-year-old police officer died in Oklahoma on Monday morning after he and a man exchanged gunfire when the man ran during a traffic stop Sunday night, Tecumseh police said. >> Read more trending news The officer, identified as 22-year-old Justin Terney, died of his injuries. The suspected gunman remained hospitalized Monday morning. Tecumseh Assistant Police Chief J.R. Kidney said Terney was shot multiple times after stopping a vehicle around 11:30 p.m. Sunday near the intersection of Benson Park Road and Gordon Cooper Drive. Kidney said Terney was working with dispatchers to verify information given by one of the vehicle’s passengers, a man, after becoming suspicious that he might have been giving Terney false information. As dispatchers were telling Terney that it appeared the man had an active warrant for his arrest, the man ran from the stopped vehicle and toward nearby woods, Kidney said. Terney fired a stun gun at the man. “The (stun gun) doesn’t have any effect on (the suspect) and he continues running through a wooded area, over a fence,” Kidney said. “About 25 yards inside that fence area, the officer and the suspect both exchanged gunfire.” Authorities took both the suspect, whose identity was not immediately known, and Terney to a hospital, where Terney underwent surgery for hours overnight. Kidney confirmed that Terney, who had been shot about three times, died Monday morning. The suspected gunman remained in intensive care with four gunshot wounds, according to KFOR. Terney joined Tecumseh’s police force about a year ago. “My department’s not doing good,” Kidney said Monday morning, adding that in the 22 years he has been with the department and the 38 years the chief has been with the department, this is the first officer-involved shooting for Tecumseh police. “We haven’t had to live through this yet,” he said. “We need everybody to rally around and support us.”
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  • Police have found no evidence that the man who killed four people in London last week was associated with the Islamic State group or al-Qaida, a senior British counterterrorism officer said Monday. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu of the Metropolitan Police said Westminster attacker Khalid Masood clearly had 'an interest in jihad,' but police have no indication he discussed his attack plans with others. Basu, who also serves as Britain's senior national coordinator for counterterrorism policing, said Wednesday's attack — in which Masood ran down pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge before fatally stabbing a policeman guarding Parliament — 'appears to be based on low-sophistication, low-tech, low-cost techniques copied from other attacks.' Masood was shot dead by police after his deadly rampage, which police have revealed lasted just 82 seconds. Police believe Masood — a 52-year-old Briton with convictions for violence who had spent several years in Saudi Arabia — acted alone, but are trying to determine whether others helped inspire or direct his actions. Detectives on Monday continued to question a 30-year-old man arrested Sunday and a 58-year-old man arrested shortly after Wednesday's attack. Both were detained in the central England city of Birmingham, where Masood had recently lived. Prime Minister Theresa May said last week that Masood was 'a peripheral figure' in an investigation into violent extremism some years ago. But Basu said he was not a 'subject of interest' for counterterrorism police or the intelligence services before last week's attack. Masood was born Adrian Elms, but changed his name in 2005, suggesting a conversion to Islam. Basu said there was no sign Masood was radicalized during one of his stints in prison, the last of which was in 2003. 'I know when, where and how Masood committed his atrocities, but now I need to know why,' Basu said. 'Most importantly, so do the victims and families.' As Basu appealed for anyone who spoke to Masood on the day of the attack to come forward, the British government repeated calls for tech companies to give police and intelligence services access to encrypted messages exchanged by terrorism suspects. Masood used the messaging service WhatsApp just before he began his attack. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Sunday that such services must not 'provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other.' Tech companies have strongly resisted previous calls to create back-doors into encrypted messaging, arguing that to do so would compromise the secure communications underpinning everything from shopping to tax returns to online banking. Rudd is due to hold a previously scheduled meeting with internet companies on Thursday. Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman, James Slack, said tech firms 'should be helping us more' to prevent terrorism. 'The ball is now in their court,' he said. Slack said that if agreement was not reached with the companies, the government 'rules nothing out,' including legislation. Meanwhile, the families of the dead and injured set about the difficult task of going on with their lives. The family of an American victim expressed gratitude Monday for the kindness of strangers as they insisted some good would come from the tragedy. A dozen members of Kurt W. Cochran's family gathered to face the media, sharing their shock and sense of loss. Cochran, from Utah, was on the last day of a European trip celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary when he was killed on Westminster Bridge. Cochran's wife, Melissa, suffered a broken leg and rib and a cut head, but is steadily improving. The family offered profuse thanks to first responders, British and American authorities and people who had sent notes, prayer and donations. 'Last night we were speaking as a family about all this, and it was unanimous that none of us harbor any ill will or harsh feelings towards this,' Sarah McFarland, Melissa Cochran's sister, said. 'So we love our brother. We love what he brought to the world, and we feel like that this situation is going to bring many good things to the world.' ___ Jonathan Shenfield contributed to this story.