Are You Being Tracked Online?

There was a fascinating segment on 60 Minuets reporting on how your consumer information is being tracked. Here is a link to the article

The reality is that every website that you go to will attack your browser and look at the trail of websites that you have visited. Often, this information is tied to your IP Address. Even without registering to a website, your IP address is in plain view. All one needs to do is associate the ip address to a website that you have registered to and they can connect your personal identity to your IP address. Big Data has become big business.

Ever noticed how websites that you have visited tend to retarget advertising to you? You visit a company's website then suddenly their ads begin to be displayed to you on Facebook, Yahoo, MSN, CBS, and many other national websites. Its really cool stuff if you are an advertiser. We actually help real estate firms deploy this tactic in their online advertising. But as a consumer, it is kinda creepy.

The largest tracking company of consumers today is Acxiom. They have, on average, 1500 piceces of information on 200 million Americans. If you think that government invasion of privacy is scary - what do you think of this?

Ever downloaded free apps to your cell phone like Angry Birds or the Brightest Flashlight Free App? A billion people did and that app uses your cell phone to track your movements and sells that information to marketers. The Path app was actually fined 800,000 by the FTC for filching your address book.

The flip side of being spooky is that this information actually helps shape the internet to your wants and desires. If you are on a health kick, and visit a lot of sites that support health living, then companies that offer services to consumers to improve health will begin to market stuff to you. I am not a big fan of belly fat ads, but if losing weight is my thing, perhaps its handy to see the number of companies offering solutions. As a fan of golf, I would much rather see golf ads than something like mens swimming ads (Not that there is anything wrong with men's swimming, just that I am not a fan).

Want to know what data is collected about you? Eplison will send you the information if you download and mail in this request form on their website.

Another way to hide on the internet is to use Private Browsing. It is a feature in most browsers today. It will hide your information from being collected. Some sites will begin to argue with you when you do this by putting up pop-ups that tell you to go back into "let us track you" mode. Be prepared for that.


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