How can I make sure my phone isn’t spy­ing on me?

Australian T3 - - GADGET GURU -

AUn­lucky, bub: your phone is prob­a­bly re­port­ing back to some­one about some­thing you’re do­ing. That’s just a thing that hap­pens, although it’s prob­a­bly not a process that should con­cern you too much – this is anonymised, lim­ited and merely helps man­u­fac­tur­ers build bet­ter phones.

But some hand­sets are do­ing a lit­tle more. Guru has sup­ported OnePlus in times past, but re­cent rev­e­la­tions about the level of log­ging and re­port­ing in its Oxy­gen OS are a lit­tle wor­ry­ing. Cheap Chi­nese An­droid phones are of­ten much more in­sid­i­ous, keep­ing their masters fed with more in­for­ma­tion than even GaGu’s net­work of lit­tle birds knows about you. That’s a lot.

If you’re stick­ing with your cur­rent hard­ware, paw­ing through your phone’s set­tings screens should give you a num­ber of op­tions to dis­able any vol­un­tary re­portage. There are fur­ther se­cret op­tions, if you’re us­ing An­droid, within the mys­te­ri­ous de­vel­oper op­tions screen – find these, usu­ally, by tap­ping your phone’s ver­sion num­ber seven or so times. Don’t go tweak­ing any­thing you don’t un­der­stand, mind. Guru isn’t paid to be your tech sup­port mon­key.

iPhones have op­tions to turn off data shar­ing, but Ap­ple’s pri­vacy pro­tec­tion is pretty strong any­way.

If you’re happy to change, you can start by buy­ing a phone from a rep­utable brand and hop­ing that there’s not some kind of se­cret in­for­ma­tion gath­er­ing go­ing on. The big­ger the com­pany be­hind it, the more they’ll have to do to patch holes in their soft­ware to stop any­thing un­to­ward sift­ing through your data. If you’re so ter­ri­fied that some­one’s lis­ten­ing in, it turns out Black­berry’s phones are still rel­e­vant. Mod­els like the Priv (from around $300) run stock An­droid with no hid­den ex­tras, sand­box user ac­counts to pro­tect them, and op­er­ate VPNs to shield your data.

ABOVE Turn off Black

Mir­ror and stop wor­ry­ing about your phone spy­ing on you

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