Don’t Let the Internet Track Your Every Move
By Claudette E. Paäge
High profile hacking of business and government databases dominates the news nowadays. But there may be an even bigger problem –– invisible data brokers are tracking your every online move.
Data brokers gather personal details without your knowledge. They gather information about your finances, religious preferences, political interests, medical history and sexual orientation. The collected data is used to create customized ads and web pages that speak to your interests. What’s scary is that this data could get in the wrong hands. If you don’t want your personal details scattered around the Internet, you could spend hours figuring out how to stop these companies. We’ve simplified the process for you –– just follow these tips to limit you and your family’s exposure.
- Find out who is collecting your data.
Data brokers don’t make it easy to opt out. But, several options exist, including the 10-day free trial of Safe Shepherd software. Safe Shepherd scans Internet and marketing databases to see who is selling your personal information and sends requests to delete the record. Stop Data Mining provides links to data brokers to find out what opt-out options they offer. Ghostery and Download Disconnect offer add-ons to web browsers that make it easier to opt-out from data gathering on more than 2,000 sites.
- Stop the three largest data brokers from gathering information.
- Go to Acxiom, and click the button that says “Submit” after filling appropriate information.
- Go to Experian, and click the “Opt Out of Audience IQ Cookies.”
- Epsilon: No need to visit Epsilon’s site. Instead, when an online ad pops up while you’re browsing any website, look for the “Advertising Option” icon or “AdChoices” text. Click on it to access a preference setting or an opt-out link.
- Turn off cookies.
Cookies ––small text files saved in your browser that allow a website to recognize when you return to the site –– are also used by data brokers to monitor your online preferences and history. There are two ways to disable cookies.
First, you can disable them on individual websites by holding down COMMAND + SHIFT + DELETE. A popup menu will appear, and you can turn off cookies for that website.
Secondly, most cookies can be disabled by going to the preferences, advanced settings or Internet options menu on your website browser. Then, change your privacy settings or personalization menus to disable cookies and block websites from collecting information. Follow these steps to turn off cookies in the most popular browsers:
Firefox browser: Go to the Menu button in Firefox, and select Preferences. Choose the Privacy panel, then click on “Firefox will” under the History button. Select “Use custom settings for history.” Then, uncheck “Accept cookies from sites.”
Chrome browser: Disable cookies by going to Menu in Chrome and clicking on Settings. Select “Show Advanced Settings.” Look for the “Privacy” section, then choose Content Settings. Click on “Block sites from setting any data.”
Bing browser: Click the Preferences icon on the Bing browser. Choose Settings, click on Personalization and sign into your Microsoft account to remove your personal information.
Internet Explorer browser: Go to the Tools menu in Internet Explorer, then click on Internet Options. Click on the Privacy tab, and then select Settings. Move the slider all the way to the top to block all cookies.
Safari browser: From the Safari browser menu, click Preferences and then select Privacy. To remove all cookies, select Remove All Website Data, and then click Remove Now.
- Block Interest-based ads.
Some websites gather personal information to create interest-based ads. Visit Digital Advertising Alliance to see which companies have enabled interest-based ads for your web browser. Check “Select All Shown” to turn off the ads and store the opt-out preferences in your web browser. If you use more than one browser, follow these steps for each one. You can also visit the Network Advertising Initiative and following the same steps as above.
CAUTION: Currently, there is no way to turn off browser cookies or block interest based ads and, at the same time, retain opt-out choices (opt-out choices are saved as cookies). If you delete browser cookies, the opt-out requests you make from data brokers will also be deleted.
- Use a different web browser.
Most search engines are implicit in gathering data from searches. Go to DuckDuckGo, a search engine that does NOT track you.
- Restrict information coming from your Google+ account.
Once you set up a Google+ account, your information is used to customize the ads you see and the information others see about you. Follow these steps to limit how much information is used:
Go to Settings on your Google+ page. Click Edit next to Shared Endorsements, then scroll to the bottom of the window and uncheck the box next to “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.” Click Save.
Click on your profile photo in Google+, then click Profile. Click Edit in the Basic Information section, and then choose what information you want the public to see.
Claudette Paäge of Paäge et Cie works as a financial confidant to clients who let her into their most intimate space where she brings order to all facets of their lives. Her clients range from Generation Y through Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation in NY, NJ or CT or the greater New York metropolitan area. She focuses on individuals, children with aging parents, families, busy professionals and retirees. She also provides older adults who live at home or in an assisted living facility meet the challenges of everyday living with dignity and grace. Get more valuable tips and information by visiting Claudette’s blog.