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Current thought: We have no privacy on the internet

Are you aware that at every website you visit people can gather what operating system, browser, and screen resolution you are using? Did you know that people can also learn where you are located? All of this information is volunteered by your computer and there is not much you can do about it.

Allow me to give you an example. The other day a friend of mine was showing me a new website analysis tool he had. He asked me to browse the site and he would then tell me where I went and how long I was there. Well having a modicum of computer security knowledge I thought I would trick him and switch browsers, go to privacy mode, and turn off javascript. Well not only could he track where I was and what I did; but he told me I had turned javascript off.

I was astounded. I knew one could learn what type of computer one was using but not the specifics of where I was. He assured me that it wasn’t that bad it was just to get a feel for what users find popular and add more of that content. I found that to be understandable from a marketing perspective but I must admit I got really nervous when he showed me a map that had pinpointed where in the world I was. It was dead on, all he need do is zoom in and he had found where I lived. So as an experiment we picked one random visitor to his site and tracked their activity. We found out not only where the user lived, but what gender they were and their favorite websites. It took only 5 minutes.

We then spent some time talking about how disturbing and powerful a tool analytics were. This got me thinking about the powers and abilities of major corporations. If we could track someone with such ease, imagine what information a major corporation can mine.

Pick any major search engine that offers free e-mail. When you log into your free e-mail account the corporation automatically has access to all of your e-mails. If you remain logged in and you happen to use that company’s search engine then your search results can be logged and tagged to you. They will keep a record of what you search and eventually tailor the results to your interests. It sounds like an advantage but how do you know what you may be missing?

The fact of the matter is if you are on the internet you have waived many of your privacy rights. You may not know it but every website you have been to can be traced. Even your internet service provider keeps detailed records of your actions. Like it or not you are being watched. There are a few things you can do to try and get your privacy back. You can try using the onion router or check in at the Electronic Freedom Foundation.

More info:
* Electronic Freedom Foundation
* The onion router

Tracking and Analytic Software:
* ClickTale Analytics
* Google Analytics
* ClickHeat
* Clicky Web Analytics

Please, remember though analytic software is not all bad it is just how it used.

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