How to control your privacy in Android 10

With the newest Android version, Google has tried to improve and simplify the process of managing your privacy. Learn how to use the privacy controls and options in Android 10.

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Image: Jason Cipriani/CNET

Privacy is an ongoing concern for all technology users, especially on mobile devices where companies and advertisers can track not only your online activities but your location. To help you better protect and enhance your privacy, Google has added new controls and options in Android 10. With the latest version of the Android OS, you can decide which apps have permission to access certain features, choose when your location is shared with apps and companies, and opt out of targeted ads--plus, you can control all your privacy settings from the same screen.

SEE: Mobile device security: A guide for business leaders (TechRepublic Premium)

Assuming you're running Android 10 on your device, go to Settings and tap the setting for Privacy. The first tool we'll look at is Permission Manager--it controls which apps have access to different features on your device, such as your camera, microphone, storage, contacts, and location (Figure A).

Figure A

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Tap each category to view which apps do and don't have the necessary permission for that feature. If you see an app that has access to a certain item and you want to cut off that access, tap the app name and then tap the button for Deny. If you see an app that does not have permission to a certain feature and you need it to access that feature, tap the button for Allow.

In general, you'll need certain apps to have access; for example, your camera needs access to the microphone for video, and the messaging app needs access to your contacts. Be sure to look at third-party apps, especially social media apps, that don't need or shouldn't have certain access (Figure B).

Figure B

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Pay attention to the category for Location--this one shows apps that have access to your location all the time, only while in use, or never. Again, make sure that you deny location tracking to any third-party apps that don't require it. You may also want to change the permissions for apps that have access all the time to have access only while in use (Figure C). When you're done, tap the left arrow to return to the Privacy screen.

Figure C

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Next, you can determine what information is visible on the Lock screen. Tap the setting for Lock Screen, and you can choose to show all notifications, show sensitive information only when unlocked, or don't show notifications on the Lock screen at all. Tap the left arrow when done, or tap Cancel if you made no changes.

Then, tap the down arrow for Advanced. Tap the setting for Google Location History. This takes you to a webpage where you can pause the location history for your Google account and view and disable other controls that Google uses to track and record your activities (Figure D). When finished, tap the left arrow to return to the Privacy screen.

Figure D

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Tap the setting for Ads--this is where you can opt-out of personalized ads if you wish. Keep in mind that opting out doesn't eliminate the ads you see; it just means Google won't use your activities and interests to send you targeted ads. Tap the left arrow when done (Figure E).

Figure E

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Next, tap the setting for Usage & Diagnostics--this is where you can disable Google's ability to automatically receive certain diagnostic data about your device. Most of the information collected is fairly general, but if you're concerned about privacy, you can always turn off this option.

Finally, you can turn off location tracking altogether if there are times when you don't want it on. Back at the main Settings screen, tap the setting for Location. Turn off the switch for Use Location. For maximum privacy, you may also want to peruse and try disabling the other options on this screen, such as Wi-Fi And Bluetooth Scanning, Google Location Accuracy, and Google Location History. You don't want to disable location services all the time, as that would hamper your use of certain key apps and services, but if you wish to remain private at a certain time or place, this option is worth considering (Figure F).

Figure F

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