You know the rules to protecting your privacy online. You hold onto your passwords and login information, account numbers, social security number, and other identifying information.
It’s common sense to keep that kind of potentially compromising data safe. But what about your likes and dislikes? Your regular schedule, and frequently visited locations? Your age or profession?
It may seem harmless to mention that kind of information on an online forum, or reveal in a web search. Who keeps track of such minutiae anyway?
But in the Information Age, that kind of data can be a gold mine. Information is the new currency, and there are companies making their fortunes from compiling, analyzing, and selling your personal data.
It’s a booming industry: a glut of companies are lurking in the shadows of the Internet, gathering your data to sell it to anyone who’s willing to pay the price. These so-called “data brokers” can easily follow your digital trail by using your browser cookies and other ingenious tracking methods.
And it’s not just general statistics, demographics, or overall trends that they’re selling. Many data brokers sell dossiers on individuals, complete profiles that include your name and personal information, without your knowledge or consent. These dossiers can include sensitive information such as medical history, political and religious affiliations, and sexual orientation.
There are no regulations for companies such as these. If you want to keep your personal data private and not let anonymous companies bid over it, you have to take matters into your own hands to block their efforts.
Unfortunately, some of the techniques they use are quite sophisticated and difficult or impossible to block if you want to still use many of the most popular sites and services on the Internet.
But there are ways to limit a lot of the tracking these companies do. Follow the steps below for more information on how to protect your private data from being sold to the highest bidder.