Last updated: January 1, 2023
Websites know a lot more than you think about your online behavior.
Here are some little-known facts by Internet users: Trackers that collect data on internet user behavior are active on at least 79% of websites. Many trackers collect data to create the most detailed profile of the user possible, this data is then sold, bought and used by advertisers to target individuals with a continuous stream of advertisements.
While collecting this data, trackers can gain access to very personal information, and not only browsing habits or shopping preferences but also information on financial status, sexual orientation, health, directions. political or religious. In fact, web tracking has become so pervasive that almost 10% of sites send the collected data to 10 or more companies. Likewise 15% of all pages loaded on the internet are monitored by 10 or more trackers.
And the more information is collected by the trackers on the browsing habits of Internet users, often without their knowledge, the more the data can be used to manipulate them. Consumers then become prey in this digital universe. They are then faced with many threats such as: identity theft, online scams, the spread of fake news, questionable ethics surveillance and other malicious behavior.
The result is that personal data is snatched away from you every time you visit a site in exchange for "free" content, an unbalanced transaction that puts your privacy and security at risk. It seems clear that all laws and regulations will never be able to fully protect individuals from data collection, as companies are implementing increasingly sophisticated processes to gather information.
A telling example perfectly illustrates this trend with Google's announcement (May 2017) to link billions of credit card transactions with the online behavior of these users, users who are already significantly monitored by Google thanks to their many services: Youtube, Gmail, Google Maps etc ...
However, Internet users can take a few simple initiatives to protect their privacy, such as:
- Monitor who has access to your browsing activities. You can download an extension like Ghostery for browser that will help you control all sites that track your activity and block sites for which you do not want them to have access to your data.
- Use search engines that don't track your personal information like DuckDuckGo.
- Configure your browser to clear cookies.
These actions are a good start for regain control of this personal data, but consumers need the cooperation of websites to make online interactions more equitable. Websites need to be more transparent about the true cost of their online content.