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Business - Written by on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 13:08 - 0 Comments

Your online privacy and the Do-Not-Track list

We all know how the Do-Not-Call list is used to prevent unsolicited telemarketing calls, well AOL has announced they will be supporting a Do-Not-Track list to prevent unsolicited tracking of your online behavior.

Companies like Google, Yahoo, and AOL have been tracking everything we do for years. Although these companies claim that they only record demographic information and surfing behavior (i.e. you’re a 26 year old female, and frequently visit parenting Web sites), it really doesn’t take much to connect the dots and find out your name, address, and phone number. We saw how easy this was last year when AOL released users’ search data to the public, claiming to have no personally identifiable information. The reason why it is so easy to gather information is a result of human nature; everyone does a search now and then on Google to see where you show up on the search results, or look up on Google Maps to see your house from the satellite view. Now your online privacy isn’t so private, and heaven forbid you enter your credit card information, or phone number to see where that shows up.

Although I do support the efforts of a Do-Not-Track list, and preventing people from mining my information, I think it will have a small and unnoticeable impact on information gathering as a whole. AOL may stop tracking me, but I already know MySpace, Facebook, Google, and the list goes on, is already tracking everything I do and using it at their own discretion.

While you may not be able to stop yourself from searching on Google, you can change your searching behavior, and limit your use of non-essential Web sites. See an earlier post on four reasons you should remove yourself from Facebook.

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