Welcome to the age of ordinary objects that stealthily spy on us—from inside our cars, our homes, and our offices. That smartphone game you play in a waiting room, the mobile app that gives you a weather forecast, the photo you share with online friends—all have the ability to reveal intimate details about your  life. Our increasingly digital world has created mountains of data, and there are precious few laws to safeguard the information.

But that doesn't mean you can't protect yourself. According to one of three nationally representative Consumer Reports surveys that guided this special report, 60 percent of Americans now bar mobile apps from accessing the camera, GPS data, and contact list on their phones. And half protect their online accounts with two-factor authentication.*

In the stories below, we'll provide you with more ways to protect your personal data and we'll answer key privacy questions about technologies from smart speakers to fitness trackers. Here's how to take charge of your digital domain.

Your Guide to Digital Privacy
Your Guide to Digital Privacy
Services like DuckDuckGo, ProtonMail, and Signal allow you to have a digital life without sharing too much info.
How to avoid sharing your playlist, garage door code, and driving history with the next owner.
Where the U.S. Law Let's You Down.
With no law like Europe's GDPR to pro- tect personal data, Americans have to rely on a patchwork of regulations.
It's technically possible, but researchers and security experts say the answer is probably no.
How to quickly limit location tracking, facial recognition, smart speaker recordings, and other data collection.
Researchers at Northeastern University say the Amazon Echo may respond to dialog other than its wake word.
You sign up for new apps or websites, then forget about them. But dormant accounts can threaten your privacy and security.
Having too many digital accounts raises your risk of data being misused or stolen. Here's how to clean house.
It depends, security experts say. Encryption has made web surfing safer but not risk-free.
Share a family photo and you could be revealing where you live, work, and vacation.

*Source:  June 2019 Consumer Reports nationally representative survey of 1,004 U.S. adults. These questions were answered by those for whom each method was applicable.