OK, so you know how to keep our online personal data safe. Your passwords and log-in details are all top secret, right?
But it’s not just that sort of info websites are after these days. Oh no. How often you visit the website, the way you use it, your likes and dislikes are worth a lot to a growing number of companies – known as data brokers – who buy, use and sell on information about your website-using habits.
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Many data brokers sell complete profiles that include your name and personal information, without your knowledge or consent. These dossiers can include all kinds of sensitive information. To date, there are no regulations for these companies.
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If you want to keep your personal data totally private and away from the clutches of the data brokers, it’s up to you to do something about it.
An article on Studyweb website, tells you how. They report:
You know the rules to protecting your privacy online. You hold onto your passwords and login information, account numbers, social security number, and other identifying information.
It’s common sense to keep that kind of potentially compromising data safe. But what about your likes and dislikes? Your regular schedule, and frequently visited locations? Your age or profession?
It may seem harmless to mention that kind of information on an online forum, or reveal in a web search. Who keeps track of such minutiae anyway?
But in the Information Age, that kind of data can be a gold mine. Information is the new currency, and there are companies making their fortunes from compiling, analyzing, and selling your personal data.
It’s a booming industry: a glut of companies are lurking in the shadows of the Internet, gathering your data to sell it to anyone who’s willing to pay the price. These so-called “data brokers” can easily follow your digital trail by using your browser cookies and other ingenious tracking methods.
And it’s not just general statistics, demographics, or overall trends that they’re selling. Many data brokers sell dossiers on individuals, complete profiles that include your name and personal information, without your knowledge or consent. These dossiers can include sensitive information such as medical history, political and religious affiliations, and sexual orientation.
There are no regulations for companies such as these. If you want to keep your personal data private and not let anonymous companies bid over it, you have to take matters into your own hands to block their efforts.
Unfortunately, some of the techniques they use are quite sophisticated and difficult or impossible to block if you want to still use many of the most popular sites and services on the Internet.
But there are ways to limit a lot of the tracking these companies do.
Click here for further details on how to stop your private information from being sold to the highest bidder.
These days, as a journalist, writer and editor I write a wide variety of features, frivolous and serious. I work mainly for women's magazines and national newspapers and also enjoy writing for independent news outlets and websites - the sort that publish stories the mainstream media fail to report.