Lately, I have been reading a lot of posts about how to keep sites and services from tracking your internet activity. Though many of us have nothing to hide about how we use the internet, it may still be disturbing to know you are being tracked and to have personal information about you sold to the highest bidder.
Here at the library, we use Google Analytics to get information about how people use our site. Our only reason for doing this is to help improve the user experience in our online locations. Knowing which of our pages get the most hits helps us tune in to the content you want and need. We do not sell this information. Nor do we use it for targeted advertising or nefarious purposes. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the many of the other sites out there tracking their users’ visits.
If you would like to turn off tracking in your browser, you can set this in the preferences/settings area of most browsers. Those browsers that do not currently support turning off tracking have pledged to implement support by the end of the year, according to this c-net article. Personally, I use a browser add-on called DNT+. This browser add-on/extension advertises that it goes “far beyond what built-in private browsing modes offer” with a link to this list of concerns not covered by your browser’s private mode. DNT+ also allows me to pick and choose which sites I allow to track my movements. For example, I allow libraries, schools and government information sites to track me because I know it will help them to improve their services, and they won’t sell my information. I do not allow commercial sites to track me because I do not have confidence that they will use the information in an entirely constructive way. This is all a matter of personal preference, of course.
Even with tracking blockers in place, search engines may still gather information about how you are searching. If this gives you the creeps and you are looking for a non-tracking alternative browser, check out these suggestions by How-to-Geek.
Do you have privacy concerns you’d like me to cover here? If so, please note them in the comments and I’ll work up a post.
That reminds me – it’s time to double-check my Facebook privacy settings, too…