Privacy Online? What a Concept!

I am sure you heard about the recently published articles regarding online privacy.  How sure can we be that the people who are watching us, are people we want to share our views and Internet behavior/habits with?  I think this is something we want to have control over, but, how much can we control?

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Jennifer Valentino-DeVries of the  Wall Street Journal reported on this topic in a February 16, 2012 article, ‘How Google Tracked Safari Users’.  The article discusses the use of “cookies’ being stored in a person’s computer to track online activities. Many online ‘savvy’ users are well aware of this common practice; however, Apple users thought Apple’s Safari Web Browser was defaulted to block this type of tracking.  You can get the full article details via  How Google Tracked Safari Users – Digits – WSJ

I wondered what others were thinking about this, and found some excellent points made by Alan Thompson, Principal Consultant, Marketing Analytics – July 29, 2011 article,  Is online privacy a realistic expectation?  Thompson makes some excellent points; such as he says Users benefit from free APPS , and without tracking the owners of these APPS can’t provide meaningful targeting for advertisers. In other words, without ads, charges would be required for the Free Apps users load on their devices.  He points out that we (users)  do have the choice to read and accept terms and conditions.  Many of  us often just ‘accept’ the terms without reading what they are because the benefits to us outweigh the privacy risks. We want to use these free Web Apps and services and have free access to information, therefore our privacy could be compromised.  In 2011 Thompson stated that the focus on mobile apps and privacy were not new, and that data aggregators have been collecting information on households for many years.  The first data aggregator that came to my mind was Nielsen reports.  You can read more about the various ways data is used in the article via Is online privacy a realistic expectation? | Tellabs Blog | Telecom News & Industry Trends | Tellabs News.

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 As consumers of these ‘Free APPS, Services and Information’, what can we do to be creative in protecting ourselves from these marketing strategies?
♦ Google has made a serious effort to find solutions for the privacy concerns of their users and provides  some ways to protect yourself. These are some of the tools available to you:  Encrypt searches, use Google Chrome, check Web History controls, use Gmail Chat “off the record”, Opt-out-install of Google Analytics Personalization.

Make sure to visit Google’s Dashboard, via Privacy tools – Google, which has the guidelines for changing your privacy settings.

You can make a proactive choice in handling how some of your online habits are evaluated :).  I hope this is helpful.

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