I’ll admit it. I am old enough that my younger adult days have not been recorded for all to access on the internet. Many of my generation – the X’ers – relish this lucky position when it comes to the intersection of life and the technological innovation time line. Not that the choice was mine, but I’ll take it.
I’m on the internet every day. It’s how I work and make phone calls. It’s where I get my news (reputable sources, please!) and even where I buy stuff. I choose to do these things as safely as possible. (Change your passwords often!)
Many times, individuals don’t get a choice, or are not actively working to protect their privacy online. Cookies, tags, and beacons hide on websites tracking your moves and it goes on from site to site. Some cookies are good, like to remember your user name, or what’s in your shopping cart. Some cookies are monitoring the performance of the website. Then, there are numerous other tracking cookies from advertisers performing what’s called online behavioral tracking. It’s these cookies that have the vacuum cleaner you were shopping for follow you around the web.
There are some options to limit your exposure: such as adjusting your browser settings, or switching to a privacy-minded browser, such as Duck, Duck, Go. You could install an ad blocker, such as Privacy Badger, and you can choose companies that respect your privacy (please read the Privacy Notice) or at least are doing so within reason of their own business objectives.
The flip side of tapering down your exposure is that you’ll interfere with the functionality of the website, and may still be served advertisements, but they’ll be less relevant.
If you’re like most and being online is a matter of daily existence, then actively choose your level of privacy by educating yourself and creating new habits and using a few tools that can help put privacy back in your control.