Mike's NBC-TV stories

App Guide: A Little Privacy, Please!

Make no mistake about it – knowing what you do on your smartphone or tablet is extremely valuable to a lot of different organizations – and I’m not talking hackers, either. I’m talking the likes of Facebook, Google, and many, many others. But with some special apps, you can have a fighting chance to keep your activity, YOUR activity.

Disconnect is so effective at blocking Google tracking it was briefly taken out of the Google Play store last year – is a great option for keeping private what you do online through your phone (Apple, Android). The free version blocks mobile malware and mobile trackers. A paid upgrade protects you from so-called malvertising, or malware distributed through ad networks.

One of the handiest tools for smartphones is called Ghostery. Get the app to see what companies are tracking you. Ghostery then gives you the power to block scripts, images, objects and framed documents from companies that you don’t trust. Free for Apple and Android.

Another option – this one for iPhone users only – is called Weblock. The app allows you to block mobile advertising – including those annoying video ads that sometimes automatically open. You can also block various types of content, use filters and create rules to blacklist/whitelist any URL, domain, IP or network. You can even synchronize configuration between your devices via iCloud. The app is $1.99.

Check my report for NBC-TV below to see the apps in action:

Mike is a veteran journalist whose video "PC Mike" reports have been distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations since 1994, making him one of the most experienced tech reporters in the country. His tech stories and videos have appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, the Today Show, The New York Times, USA Today and in numerous national newspapers and magazines. In addition to the PC Mike tech blog, he also publishes the Roadtreking.com RV Travel Blog in which he travels North America in an RV reporting about interesting people and places.