LordMontague Thinking Outside …


Privacy Online: Give it a rest!

For those of you living in the dark age, you most likely will not have any issues with privacy of your online data but for those who are completely connected, there has been more news and uprising over the last few weeks then ever before. Facebook has received the majority of the scrutiny but there are plenty others. Today, and the reason for writing this post, I read about what those companies do with Ads. Check out the following links to catch up:

Ok, having said and read all that, I'm calling BS! Targeted advertisement has been around since almost the start of advertisement. Advertisers do not want to waste money by showing an ad for a Yeast Cream to a man. I believe Google has been one of the first, if not the biggest example in today's world of targeted advertisements. When you do a search on their flag ship product, Google Search, what do you see above and to the side of the search results? Ads. Are those ads relevant to what you searched for or are they completely irrelevant? That's right, they use your search query to query for the most appropriate advertisements for you. This does three things, first it reduces costs to the advertiser because they will not be showing ads to the wrong people and getting charged for them. Second, you as a consumer, is more likely to be interested in an ad if it's something you are looking for. Lastly, it gives tracking information to Google and the advertisers as to what works.

Great, we've now realized that targeted advertisements based off user data has been around for a long time. Now to the other side of the equation, privacy. Do you really think you browse the Internet privately without leaving any traceable data? If you do, you should really get off line now! Sure there are ways to truly be anonymous when surfing the Internet, but 99% of all users don't know how to or don't really care to. Do you want to know what data I know about you from just reading this post? Well, check it out:

Well, does that change your mind about online privacy? You didn't even have to tell me anything about you and I already know what Operating System and Browser you are using, what your current IP Address is, where that IP Address is registered and approximate location of it, and where you came from to get to this page. This is just the base information that EVERY website can collect about it's viewers. Plus, websites can use Cookies to track you across their entire site and track your browsing habits on their site. And most likely, that Cookie will still be validate when you return to the site, so guess what they can do? You guessed it, they can tailor what Ads they show you based off your tracking Cookie.

Bottom line here is you must take ownership and reasonably of your own data and privacy online. You can not blame applications / services you sign up for when they use the data you provide them for other things. Most all Social Networks provide ways to restrict access to your private data, Facebook being one of the most extensive Privacy Control systems I've seen in an Online Application (read about setting it up from MacLife). If you don't read about, understand, and configure the Privacy Settings offered to you, don't go crying foul when your data is world readable. You should always try and read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy of anything you sign up for online. If you don't, it's your own fault for giving them your private data and allowing them to use it.

Posted by LordMontie

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