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What Is Personally Identifiable Information, and Why Is It Important?

Where Do I Go To Learn How Companies Treat My Information?

What Can I Do To Protect My Information Online?

Cookies and Online Tracking

Using Social Networks & Photo-Sharing Services

Mobile Devices & Privacy

Additional Privacy Considerations

Online Privacy Rights under Maryland and Federal Law

This guide was created in collaboration with
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Printable version of this Guide (PDF).

Mobile Devices & Privacy

Tablets and smart phones - like the iPhone, Android phones, and Blackberry phones - are incredibly popular. They offer great services and tools, such as the ability to download and use apps, search the Internet for driving directions, and make purchases on the go. They also come with features that affect your privacy in ways desktop computers and landline phones don't.

Location Information. Mobile devices like smart phones and tablets include technology that allows companies to collect and sometimes share your location information, often in real time. You may want to share this information with friends so they know where to meet you for dinner, or you may want an app to know your location so that you can find a nearby restaurant or get directions. However, you may not want to share location information with companies that don't need to know your location, for example the developer of a game app. Also, by uploading and sharing photos that reveal your location, you may give friends and strangers alike the ability to know where you are, where you have been, or where you habitually go. Location information not only can tell friends and trusted companies your location; it can also allow strangers to know when you're away from home, or allow others to figure out where you're spending your time when you do not want them to know. Retailers may track the WiFi or Bluetooth signals from your cellphone to create reports that they use to monitor wait times on line or to analyze the location of shoppers. You can turn off WiFi or Bluetooth when you don’t need it to avoid this tracking and can visit www.smartstoreprivacy.com for opt-out options offered by location companies.

Use Your Settings. Although smart phones differ in how they handle location information, most allow you to adjust or "toggle" location data sharing. These controls can be found in your devices' settings. Some settings allow you to turn off location services entirely, while others allow you to control individual apps' access to location information. When you do not explicitly need your location information for an app or service, consider toggling off location services to protect your privacy.

Password-Protect Your Device. Consider adding a password to protect your smart phone or tablet. That way, if it gets lost or stolen, it will be harder for others to access the information about you on it. Many smart phones also have features that allow you to remotely delete your private information in the event your phone is lost or stolen.


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