Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What?! I’m being tracked??

In a world where everyone is more connected and sharing more than ever before, how much privacy is possible?   As a self-taught shadow ninja walking through the house without a noise, is there a way for my skills to translate into the online dimension?

Some claim there are ways you can avoid being tracked even by web analytics but it requires some effort.  There are VPN options where you are not logging in as yourself, and are basically using a “dummy” account that is being tracked.  There are browsers and browser add-ons that claim to keep your information from the websites you visit, but mostly in the form of avoiding cookies, or sending a request to not be tracked to the website.  AVG has a do not track option with their antivirus software which allows users to block sites from seeing them online.   There are a myriad of other options discussed and re-discussed online.   Of course you should also be diligent about reading the EULAs and checking your privacy settings especially on social media or subscriptions sites.

However, not everyone agrees that it is possible to have privacy.  Steve Rambam said “privacy is dead – get over it”.  Many critics point out that the very software and add-ons that you think are helping you achieve anonymity could be tracking you themselves.  And it is hard to avoid the fact that packets are being sent back and forth between machines.  We live in a world where technology is capable to see your infra-red heat signature walking around your house from space; a world where I need a card at the grocery store to get the good deals.  I need to get a personal health profile with blood workup done in order to get low insurance premiums.  And I purchase everything with a credit card for the convenience and the “points”.  It is a safe assumption that someone is tracking, monitoring or watching you at any given moment, especially online.   It makes closing the blinds in my bedroom at night almost seem silly.