Posts Tagged Spying
A while back, we told you about how Google was using its mapping street-vans to “accidentally” collect things like your passwords in their efforts to provide all the public information they can to people. Recently, Steve Kovach has pointed out that they’re recording your browser history in order to spam you with adds while you’re online. I’ve got to admit that I’ve noticed a serious uptick in the number of adds I come across from the sites I’ve visited more than once.
To me, though, the problem is more that once again you’re being tracked. The fact that it’s merely to advertise sites you’re already looking at is merely insulting. But they’re violating your privacy – once again – by tracking you in the first place. Steve focuses on the companies themselves, and that’s worthwhile in itself, because blocking them from getting the information does reduce the problem. But the heart of the issue is that, once again, you’re being spied on by people claiming to help you. That makes it look like nothing’s ever going to change, and these people really do want to take over your brain.
Honestly, it makes me feel like everyone’s got their own personal stalker who’s creeping around the Internet. Maybe that’s what Eric Schmidt was talking about with his creepy line, in which case, it’s definitely been crossed. And all so they can remind you about something that you’ve already looked at. There’s a little cynical thought inside me that’s wondering what this is really about. It can’t just be about rerunning ads, because no one’s so forgetful that they need reminded that they’re interested in something.
It’s long been known that spying goes on in the Internet, but the main culprits in this list of those who are notorious at spying may surprise you. You would think Google, Yahoo! or Bing would be one of the biggest offenders, but in reality, they don’t rank anywhere near—Dictionary.com. That’s right, dictionary.com. A source to help you further your vocabulary or find a word you’re unsure of—and an avenue for Internet spying to take place.
Next on the list is Merriam-webster.com. I think this means you’re not supposed to further your vocabulary. The first of the Big 3 that show is Yahoo! followed by Bing, then Google. You would think it’s the complete opposite, but the proof is in the research. If you go to the Dictionary or Merriam-Webster sites, you’ll see an abnormal amount of pop-ups, slow website navigation, ads that are geared toward your search history, etc. It’s a scary thing to say the least. Big Brother is watching you, but you really can’t do anything about it.
Spying from businesses isn’t anything new, and the traditional definition of the word suggests some illegal activity. The plight in this situation is that it’s perfectly “legal”. Of course there are gray areas, but “beacons” are nothing more than a marketing tool used by some to see what it is you’re looking for.
There are companies that pay for services like this and it’s not right, to say the least—at least for people like me who like to be left alone. Advertising and marketing is truly a billion dollar industry and there is a lot of “spying” going on with little to no consequences. So, yes, people are watching you on the Internet and selling your goods to the people who are paying for them.
It’s a vicious cycle, but there really is no way to combat that unless we stop surfing the Internet. At least you have the confidence to know that Google isn’t the number one offender in this case. Facebook doesn’t even come up high on it either. You can see a list of the biggest offenders here.
Be careful where you go and make sure your filters are set the way you want them. It’s not an end-all solution, but it does help.
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