Tracking Who’s Tracking You

If you are a Firefox user who has AdBlock Plus some sites detect you have that add-on installed and serve you a message like, “Can you please disable your ad blocker for just this site? As you surf the Web, information is being collected about you. Web tracking is not 100% evil — personal data can make your browsing more efficient; cookies can help your favorite websites stay in business. But, says Gary Kovacs, of Mozilla it’s your right to know what data is being collected about you and how it affects your online life. He unveiled the Firefox add-on to do just that.

Gary Kovacs is the CEO of Mozilla Corporation with the responsibility for leading the overall direction of the organization and the Firefox Web browser. This February he announced a browser add-on for Mozilla called Collusion. It allows you to track who’s tracking you online … and the results are surprising to say the least.  Collusion is an experimental add-on for Firefox and allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the Web. It will show you, in real time, how that data creates a spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers.

Gary Kovacs: Tracking the trackers

Discussion

Tracking is the non-consensual use or transfer of behavioral data collected across websites or applications as to an individual, computer or device. Tracking is when companies collect or share information about what you do across different websites, without asking you first. Companies do this primarily to customize advertising, content and products based on your interests. They leave cookies in your browser that identify your computer (typically anonymously) and associate it things like what you’ve shopped or searched for recently. Some companies trade in this data, selling other parties the ability to leave their own cookie and associate it with some part of your profile.

“If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”

You are leaving digital footprints online. Those footprints are increasingly valuable to advertisers and marketers. How is your data — sites you’re visiting, what you’re reading online — being used, for good and bad?

Related posts:
Twitter Customizing Who-to-Follow
Google Chrome to Support ‘Do Not Track’

16 thoughts on “Tracking Who’s Tracking You

  1. I had no clue about this. Feels weird being stalked by so many sites. Thank you for bringing this up to my attention!

  2. This is an interesting add-on that I’ll look into, but I suspect that it might just make me paranoid.

    One site that asks for cookies to be turned off or ad block to be turned off (I forget which) that I always oblige on, is .Free Rice which is a knowledge quiz that awards grains of rice to the starving for every question you get right. It gives you the option to get your wrong answers right too. As it relies on advertisers as sponsors, having ad block on seems an insult to them and, to me, seems unethical. So I turn off ad block for them. I rarely turn it off for any other site.

    Here’s wikipedia on Free Rice:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freerice
    The link to their website is at the bottom in external links.

    Sometimes, in my opinion, there are more important issues to think about than who’s watching us.

    1. I did a full computer scan and then used it and was surprised and somewhat fascinated by what I saw in real time. I won’t be using it all the time as I deactivated it but I may use it from time to time. I don’t turn off my AdBlocker. I don’t want to see ads and never click them.

    1. This does far more than that Susie. It shows you in real time what’s going on. If you try it you will be amazed to see what’s happening in the background that most of us are unaware of.

      1. timethief, thanks for reply regarding my question about getting feedback before i publish, it says there to put people’s email to send requests for feedback, well, i do not know anyone on wordpress, is there a listing of people or something, i am really asking more for editing than content feedback; however, content feedback is also welcome, focused fox, thanks.

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