Who’s tracking you on the Internet

By Dale Dixon/ BBB’s trust evangelist

If you’re online, it’s safe to assume that someinfoone is watching. No one should have an expectation of privacy with email or while surfing online. Your digital trail is very valuable to marketers. That said, there are a few things you can do to make your trail more like sparse bread crumbs and less like footprints in fresh snow.

One of the companies detailed in the story you referenced is Acxiom. A quick side note: I find it interesting that one of the largest data collectors refused to be interviewed or share any information about itself. A lack of transparency is cause for alarm.

Before we start putting up roadblocks in the digital space to protect your privacy, a very important point: I’ll be giving you a number of websites to visit. Please do not type the website information into a search bar. Break the habit now. Type the address, exactly as I share it, into the address bar of your internet browser. The address bar and search bar are two very different places on your web browser. Searching for the following could inadvertently lead you to malicious sites.

I went to the Acxiom website and figured out how to remove my name from its database (at least, that’s what I was lead to believe when reading the fine print). The opt-out web page is self-explanatory. Go to bit.ly/1cOFvdW3 and follow the instructions. You’ll also want to opt out of Acxiom’s US Digital Advertising Products at http://bit.ly/N0RHRN. This step requires you place a cookie on our computer. Keep this in mind if you regularly delete cookies from your web browser. Once deleted, it won’t work.

Next on the privacy to-do list: Opt out of the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) online behavioral advertising program. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Your online activity is monitored and your surfing behavior is captured. The information is used to put specific advertising in front of you while online. Go to http://www.aboutads.info and scroll down the page to the “For Consumers” section. Click the ‘Visit’ link in the paragraph that starts, “Exercise Your Choice:.”

While you’re on DAA’s page, watch for the icon that looks like a blue triangle on its side with a lower-case i inside. This is the icon you should be watching for on all websites. It tells you the site is part of the self-regulated behavioral advertising program.

Don’t forget to visit https://www.dmachoice.org. When you arrive on the page, look for a link in the bottom third of the webpage that reads, “Email Opt Out Service.” Click it and fill out the form.

Bottom line: I could write pages on the number of places you need to go to opt out of being tracked online. Start paying attention to web page privacy policies.  Opt out when given the option. I’ll share more next week.


1 Comment

Filed under News You Can Trust

One response to “Who’s tracking you on the Internet

  1. Mark Burrows

    I am suspicious and opinionated in removing my name from anything. Simple logic, while doing such, most databases will create a report of activity. They may allow the removal from that particular database, but in return pass it on to a sister site or sell your name to another database.
    You have to understand that your name and what little information even it just public domain as what could be found in your local telephone directory is a commodity to be bought and sold, but in addition to you name is a track record of your habits of what interests you, data that might have been collected such as age, so they are aware of your demography. I can’t imagine that young people are being heavily advertised in their emails about little blue pills that make you feel young again, but if you feel young for more than four hours you should see your doctor. Nor do they get emails about retirement homes.
    I don’t let any of this worry me, for reasons of knowledge that I have learned the behavior system of the internet and how it works. Also, I have nothing to hide. In addition to that, I have the strength and the fortitude to ignore most of the rubbish that gets sent to me. With emails, constantly sending things to the junk mail department, that do not have relevance to my preferences as to what is acceptable, instead of deleting them. Eventually, my junk mail will recognize the pattern of senders and start to block them, because I have set my preferences to do so.
    Otherwise, my email is extremely streamlined.
    Of course, there are options provided usually by your browser even some by your server that will aid you in telling sites that you are there but not exactly who you are, they generally won’t throw you off because there is always a chance that they provide enough information on their site to entice you to sign up and provide the such necessary identification.
    Remember, everything you do, it is your choice. So, if you choose to build a house, you would not do so without learning how to do design, survey the land, plan for electrical and sewage, put down a foundation, know how to mix cement, learn about carpentry, masonry, electrical, insulation, and painting. One mistake, and your home is flawed.
    Same with the internet, if you don’t learn, then your decisions become flawed.

    Mark Burrows

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