There is No Such Thing as Privacy on the Internet

Privacy on the Internet is a Fairy Tale

Internet Privacy

Internet Privacy Doesn't Exist

My favorite analogy on Internet privacy is as follows:

” People think they are hidden from the world when they are in their air-conditioned cars, windows up and radio blasting.  They put on mascara, check their teeth for crumbs and sing into cell phones.  In reality, everyone around them can see exactly what they are doing – and they are judging.”

The internet is full of surveillance technology. All of your moves can be tracked. Most of them are.

Whether you know it or not, you have given interested parties permission to track your browsing history and internet usage.When you load software onto your shiny new computer the first time and check the tiny square at the bottom of legal gobbledygook you say “OK, you can follow me around the internet.” You have just waived all rights to internet privacy.  You give permission to track and store all the data and your history. The only alternative is to not use the internet.

For the most part, data gathered on the web is being used for statistical purposes with the goal of providing a better product for users.  Browsing is tracked through use of “cookies,” “beacons” and “flash cookies,” These small files are software programs installed on a user’s computer by the web pages that are visited. Most cookies are harmless.

Cookies allow websites to see who visits a site, what browsers they use, keywords, even how long users stay on sites.  As a marketer – that is a good thing. This allows you to adjust website content accordingly and refine your business to offer customers a better product.

Cookies help provide security on the internet. When you log into a member site (i.e. your bank)  an identirfying cookie is sent after a successful sign-in.  Each page in the site checks for that cookie and continues to verify login credentials.

What I don’t like are third party cookies.  These are  a subset  that are used by companies to track users from site to site and build a database of online activities. The problem with third party cookies, is that you have no idea who is tracking your movement.  If you visit a sports, or any other site, it’s assumed they use cookies, but if they allow third party cookies to be used, you don’t know who is getting information about your usage and patterns.

As a user, I wouldn’t mind a little internet privacy. One simple step you can take is to block third-party cookies.  You can do this through your privacy settings.  E-How has clean and simple instructions on how to disable third-party cookies.

The downside of disabling third party cookies is that some sites won’t allow access to their site without their use.  When that happens, I choose to find another site.

Photo Credit: smokedsalmon/

Comments on this entry are closed.