Data Trackers and You
Did you know uninvited data trackers are aware of your surfing history, email access, medical info, and more? Add malicious data trackers to the mix and they may also know your passwords and credit card and bank account numbers.
I watched The Data Brokers: Selling Your Personal Information on Sixty Minutes and highly recommend you do, too. Read the transcript or watch the video. The Sixty Minutes Overtime additional videos are good, too (they’re in the sidebar with the transcript). I watched How to Defend Your Privacy Online, which I also recommend. I took tips from this second video for much of the content of this post. I highly recommend these videos to help you determine some of the measures you’re going to take.
In these videos, Sixty Minutes investigated “the multibillion dollar industry that collects, analyzes and sells the personal information of millions of Americans with virtually no oversight.”
According to the first video, Facebook and Google keep their tracking internally. I don’t know the details about that. All I know is I’ve been getting ads based on my web browsing, plus spam messages, in Facebook. Also, the video mentioned Evernote has data trackers attached to it. I was disappointed to hear that since I’m just now finding Evernote very useful to organize my tasks.
The data trackers are not invited there by Evernote, CBS, or others. These websites are popular, so the data trackers have attached themselves like digital parasites. My Avira Browser Safety add-in for Chrome has blocked 100 data trackers in just my first week of using it. It blocked two here on WordPress as I post. It blocked eight on Evernote and fifteen on CBS.
Some Measures I’m Taking to Stop Data Trackers
These are very new measures for me to start taking, so I’ll list my steps and then list some other sites you could check out for yourself. I’m sure I’ll have more I can say after I use them for a while.
- I already use Avira AntiVirus for free and just started their beta add-in, Avira Browser Safety for Chrome, to automatically block trackers.
- I added DuckDuckGo to my bookmarks for Chrome as my go-to search engine when on Chrome. It doesn’t do any tracking of your searches.
- I downloaded WhiteHat Aviator, a browser with built-in security. I’ll begin doing my regular searches and social media activity on this browser.
Other Options to Consider
- MaskMe for Chrome masks your phone, email, and credit card information when browsing and shopping on the Internet.
- Disconnect allows you to “see” the trackers and unapprove them.
- The video, How to Defend Your Privacy Online, has more tips, including using a metal-lined bag to shield your phone, steps to take to block ads on your iPhone, and more.
I downloaded the add-on, DoNotTrackMe, (available for most browsers) to test on Firefox. I like their additional feature of masking my email addresses. For $5/month they will mask credit card numbers and give you a new masked phone number that forwards calls and texts to your real number. (You can block telemarketers with this feature.)
Once you install one of the trackers, you’ll be surprised at how many digital parasites you’re brushing up against every day.
What you are doing (or going to do) to stop data trackers? If you try some of these options, please share your experience with us.
NOTE: The Victorian pocket watch spy camera photo is available on Wikimedia Commons.