In the recent years, there has been an exponential growth in the web based technologies and online businesses. Moreover, the past decade has witnessed a growth of online life so much that now it is impossible to make a clear line of separation between real life and virtual life.
Real life and cyber life have almost overlapped now, and it has it’s own boon and bane. Today, almost everyone is connected to the web in some way, internet and social media has reduced all the distances. Earlier people used to travel miles just to send a postcard, now we can easily text, call and even video call. But, all these assets come with a huge price that you are paying. All these feature online which look free of cost to us, are actually not free of cost. We are actually being robbed off our privacy for these free services and amenities that we enjoy on our daily basis. Read this amazing article.
What’s more disturbing is the fact that some people think that going incognito or private browsing saves us from this data theft. People have general mindset that if they do private browsing or use incognito mode, then they can’t be tracked or their searches will be private. This is completely wrong. Only duty of incognito mode is to not save the browsing history and cookies. Any website and even your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can easily track your usage. Using the digital fingerprint of your web browser, any website can very easily store and track your usage.
- Open your browser’s Private browsing (Or, Incognito mode)
- Go visit this website: Think Incognito
- Search anything you want to search on google there
- Close that window
- Open Private browsing or Incognito Mode (OR, normal browsing would also do)
- Again visit the same website: Think Incognito
SURPRISED? Yes, the website can remember what you searched for even though you had visited it via the Private browsing or Incognito Mode.
All our personal information, or one can say our “privacy” is being sold to all the commercial and advertisement companies which use our information to find out what all products and services we like to use and enjoy, and they know them by stalking us on e-commerce websites and google searches. They’re called data brokers, and they are collecting, analysing and basically stealing and packaging our most sensitive personal information and selling it as a commodity, to each other, to advertising agencies, to criminals, and sometimes even the government, often without our direct knowledge. Most of this is the kind of harmless consumer marketing that’s been going on for decades. What’s changed is the volume and nature of the data being mined from the Internet and our mobile devices, and the growth of a multi-billion dollar industry that operates in the shadows with virtually no oversight.
What’s more dangerous is the fact that people have This process of gathering information about customers and potential customers is going on since years, big companies go on collecting their customers’ names and addresses, tracking credit card purchases, and asking them to fill out some forms or questionnaires, so they can offer discounts and send catalogues. But today we are giving up more and more private information online without knowing that it’s being harvested and personalised and sold to lots of different people…our likes and dislikes, our closest friends, our bad habits, even your daily movements, both on and offline. Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill says we have lost control of our most personal information.
“_As you click through the web and view car sites or read about the news, companies, these third parties, will collect your click stream, as you click from site to site to site, to see what you may be reading, what you may be interested in, what types of things you might buy” — _Ashkan Soltani
There is a very interesting quote, ”It’s not about what we know we’re sharing, it’s about what we don’t know is being collected and sold about us.”. One eye opening lesson that one can learn from this quote is that one should always be very careful while surfing on internet, the sooner we realize that the foolproof way of becoming completely private or invisible on internet does not exist, the better it is for us.
However, we can be somewhat invisible through the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). There will be a separate article on VPNs, coming very soon :)
That concludes this article. I hope you have gained some insight into what it how your privacy is being sold. Be careful about what you search next time.