How many times have you clicked ”opt out” thinking ”this will stop the internet from tracking me”? The truth is, online privacy is a myth. Some of the biggest tech giants steal data from you. They track you and collect information about you without your permission. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, even your internet service providers (ISP’s).
Google Chrome takes a log of your search queries. In September 2018, a tech expert, Christoph Tavan, announced that it’s almost impossible to clear browsing data and to delete Google cookies. Google Maps keeps tracking your location after turning off location history. Google Maps Timeline keeps a record of all your precise locations up to one month. How you get to your different locations, the means by which you get there, and the time you spend in each location.
Last year, the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed that Facebook is the leader of the pack of user data collectors. Besides the fact that Facebook is the most used social media, the social network does trade by barter with other social media platforms. Facebook provides services or infrastructure to social media platforms, in exchange for their users’ information. According to Mobilsicher, Tinder, Pregnancy+, and Grindr secretly provide user data to Facebook.
What do tech companies do with your data? One, they use the data to improve the quality of their services, e.g., Google’s Hummingbird uses the data to learn natural language. Secondly, they sell your data to companies for targeted marketing. That’s why you see popup adverts of a product you recently searched about when you’re no longer searching.
When asked in a recent interview whether Mark Zuckerberg would provide an ad-free version and stop taking user’ information without permission, he answered that he doesn’t think it’s a great idea. We should also remember that Facebook’s chief privacy officer in 2018, Erin Egan, said: ”we’ll still provide apps and websites with aggregated analytics”. That shows that you need to protect your privacy online by yourself because tech companies won’t stop data collection.
How To Stop The Internet From Tracking You And Collecting Your Data
Don’t Disclose Too Much On The Internet
First, if you want to protect your privacy online and stop the internet from tracking you, you need to stop putting out your personal information on the internet. We are all guilty of doing this, our addiction to social media makes us casually give out sensitive information. In fact, burglars now monitor their target’s social media to get information about them.
Browse In Anonymous Mode
When using popular web browsers, go private, that is, use Incognito Mode for Google Chrome. Use Private Mode for Safari and Mozilla Firefox. This doesn’t guarantee complete privacy online but it’s better than normal browsing. Using the anonymous mode actually allows you to block cookies and by that, most of the companies tracking you will be shut out.
Use Browser Security Extensions
To better protect your privacy online, make use of extensions/tools like Ghostery and HTPPS Everywhere. Ghostery is a plugin that detects and blocks third-party tracking. HTPPS Everywhere is an extension that will prevent un-secure connections, this means that phishing websites can’t monitor your internet activity.
Use An Off-shore VPN
In case you don’t know, ISP’s track internet users and they’re actually allowed to legally. Hence, you need to protect your privacy online by getting a VPN. Make use of off-shore VPN’s that won’t take a log of the sites you visit. This will stop ISP’s from tracking you.
Use Encrypted Instant Messaging Platforms
Social media has become a major part of our lives, it will be hard to do without them. However, we should not continue to let them track and steal our information, then come back to use targeted ads to disturb us. Not to mention that these social media platforms are making money off of collecting our data without permission. There are social media that don’t track and collect data, Apple’s iMessage is one. You can also use Telegram, Signal, and Wickr, Wickr is recommended for business owners.
While online privacy is almost impossible, one of the reasons the internet is able to track and collect our data is that we don’t pay attention to the fine prints we agree to. Most of them tell us that by clicking ”I Agree” we are signing an agreement that will let them take our information to do as they want. If you want to stop data collection, go through the conditions before clicking on any agreement terms on the internet and on your apps.