Who's Tracking You?

  
     
August 19, 2014
- by Evan Gillogley

 

web trackingCompanies today not only track every click, but also collect your IP address, browser, general location, and other personally identifiable information when you visit their website. Companies are not hiding this fact. California law requires that businesses operating in CA openly disclose tracking in their privacy policy on their website. While no general Federal Privacy Policy law is in place, specific US businesses, such as financial institutions, health services, and those that target children under the age of 13, must publicly disclose what information they collect. 

How does a business track you?

The business first inserts a tracking code into every web page it wants to track. This code is not clearly visible on the page (You can find the code by right clicking the web page and clicking  ‘view page source’). This javascript tracking code typically pulls information from your computer and sends it to a database which the business can access.

The newest form of tracking is called a re-targeting pixel. This pixel is also a tracking code, but the code loads a cookie into your browser, giving the business the ability to follow you to other sites and advertise their services.

Opting-Out of Tracking

There is no perfect answer to opt out of tracking, but there are many solutions and applications that prevent tracking. Here are some options:

  • To prevent cookies, popular browsers have a disable or permissions setting.

  • To eliminate all javascript code tracking altogether, disable javascript on your browser. Go under the privacy settings of your browser to disable this. Warning: Many web applications and websites run on javascript and you will not be able use them when disabling javascript.

  • You can install a third party application, such as DoNotTrackMe, Privacy Badger, AdBlockPlus, or Opt Out of Google Analytics Plugin, to detect and block advertising and trackers. There are no guarantees to protecting your personal information from tracking or cookies.

  • Look at the Privacy Policy. Some policies disclose how to opt-out. 

Privacy Policies

Many privacy policies are short and explain specifically what they track. You can find a privacy policy in a corner of a web page or in the ‘about us’ section of websites. Read more about the California Online Privacy Policy laws here.

Image credit:  Victor Grigas- India Cellphone and Tech Images November 2011

Disclaimer: Views expressed on this Blog are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BBB Serving Northeast California.