You are being tracked every time you go on the web

Naked on the Net

You will be shocked and surprised if you ever discovered how many details of your personal life are available on the web. Search engines like Google and Yahoo have a mine of information about your life; some of it could be embarrassing! Your comments, your photos, your mails, your transactions and your surfing habits can all be tracked. Your purchases, music you listen to the videos you watch are all on the net. All this personal information is very valuable.

So some people are tracking you all the time, using your data in various ways you don’t like or spying on you without your knowledge or consent. If you watch videos of Osho regularly, you will automatically get mails from You Tube giving you more options! If you buy Osho books on the net, the seller will send you more titles to tempt you to buy.

All this is fine but it can get nasty too! The recent hacking and leaking of nude photos of a hundred or so Hollywood and pop stars is a case in point. These nude photos were illegally uploaded without their knowledge or consent of the celebrities involved. What a shocker! A huge hue and cry ensued by the stars. “It’s so weird and hard how people take your privacy away from you,” Oscar winning star Jennifer Lawrence said in a tweet. But the violation of privacy has been rampant ever since Facebook, Twitter and Google among other social networking sites became the rage and the norm. They all attack, if not eliminate, your privacy.

Remember that at any given time; a third of the world’s population is on the net. Your every click on a site forms your digital footprint. Somebody is following you all the time and collecting your data about your movements. Your birthday, photos, videos, address, phone or mobile number, religion, interests, relationships, memberships, financial history and other details are most probably on the web to be mined by these trackers. The data is online forever. This data is very valuable as it helps to compile your profile which can be sold to businesses that want to sell you goods and services.

Data collection and selling is big business with a turnover of an estimated 50 billions dollars. Many websites collect data about you on each visit to track which age group is accessing a specific type of content and how often. Your data is used for checking your background when you apply for a college or a job. It is used when you open a bank account, want a credit card or enter into a partnership or agreement. Most of all, this data helps sellers to send you ads that meet your interests.

Since there is hardly any privacy on the net, it has become a major priority for almost all who use the net. Most sites and web groups have a privacy policy. Yet data mining and hacking flourishes unabated. Any text, photo or video can be copied and shared any number of times. It can go viral in minutes. So are there any solutions? Go on the net and you will find hundreds of articles that advise you how to interact with the net and retain some semblance of your privacy. Better do fast since on the web, you are almost naked!

Kul Bhushan worked as a newspaper Editor in Nairobi for over three decades and now lives in New Delhi


* Published in print edition on 10 October 2014

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