Security

With over 630 ‘tracking technologies,’ we need to get educated on advertising

As you jump from website to website, absorbing content in the safety of your own home, people may still be tracking what you’re up to.

Online advertisers today depend on data to help them identify what stores you shop at, what topics you read, what clothes you wear, all in order to target you with more shopping opportunities. They follow you around the Internet to a much deeper extent than many people realize, however.

For example, if you visit a website that has a Facebook Like button, Facebook then knows what sites you like, regardless of whether you’re signed in or not. You’re also tracked with cookies, which can tell a future website which past websites you’ve visited in order to serve you advertisements about that site.

ZoneAlarm, the antivirus and firewall portion of security company Checkpoint, studied these tactics and found that there are 630 different “tracking technologies” that let a company watch your online activity “including your browsing history, clicks, purchases, and videos watched.”

Think that’s a big problem? So do many who are rallying for a Do Not Track feature that will let you tell websites not to use tracking software. Unfortunately, the Federal Trade Commission, which promised the feature last March, has not come to a decision on how to best implement DNT, so we’ll have to wait a little longer.

Online traffic infographic

Bloodhound image via Flickr

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