You should check the hidden privacy report on your phone

More and more mobile phone users are concerned about how apps access, distribute and process their data. And rightly so, because plenty of apps have been found that extract more information than is necessary.

Apple has recently taken several measures against app developers who play with your data quickly and loosely. The most significant change was the introduction of the App Privacy Report in iOS 15.2. But that’s not the only weapon you have against data breaches.

Read on for other tools at your disposal and a new reporting feature that everyone should start using.

Here’s the backstory

iOS 15.2 released last December marked a turning point in Apple’s commitment to protecting your online data. Several studies have shown that many apps require permission to access data that was not needed.

For example, a weather app needs your precise location to keep you up to date, but doesn’t need to know your email address, access your camera, or read text messages. To address that problem, Apple has introduced its app privacy report so you can easily see which apps have access to which data.

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To enable the app privacy report:

In Settings, tap PrivacyScroll to and tap App Privacy ReportTap Enable App Privacy Report

It may take some time to collect information from the apps, but it includes many data use points and how it is shared. For example, the Data & Sensor Access tab shows how often a specific app accesses things like your location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts. You can tap an app to get more details.

The Network Activity tab is similar in that it shows you which domains apps have connected to, websites your phone has visited in the past seven days, and the most contacted domains in the past seven days.

What can you do about it?

Another built-in feature works with the app privacy report to expand the data usage landscape. Before downloading an app from the official App Store, scroll down a bit and you will come to a section called App Privacy.

Here, the relatively new Privacy Nutrition labels give you a look at what data the app links to you and how the information tracks you. You can tap any section to get more details, but the types of data that apps can collect Involving:

Your nameEmail addressPhone numberHealth and fitness detailsPayment detailsExact locationYour photos, videos or sound recordingsBrowsing and search history

In rare cases, some apps can access your ethnic data or sexual orientation, information about pregnancy or childbirth, disability or religious preference.

Since most of this information is sensitive, please pay attention to the Privacy Nutrition Labels in the App Store. Do not download or use the app if you do not agree with the information collected.

For apps already on your device, you can restrict or deny an app’s use of specific components in your phone by going back to the Privacy section in Settings. For example, to check which apps can access your camera, scroll down in Privacy and tap Camera.

The next screen lists all apps that have camera access by default. Scroll through the list and toggle the switch next to an app if you want to deny it access. Keep in mind that some apps require specific features to work properly.

While this is iPhone specific, there is a similar app privacy feature on Android called Data Security† It will give you the same kind of information and will be rolled out in the coming weeks.

Check out this guide for more information about the Data Security section of Google Play.

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