Everyone knows it, but how much control do you have over who is tracking you online?
Mark Millan, a correspondent for CNN, discusses the status quo and how the business of tracking you online may be in for some change.
Here is an excerpt from his article.
What’s the best way to let advertisers know you don’t want to be tracked online?
As companies gather, and sell, information about people’s Web activity, more users are asking that question. And so are governments, ad giants and startups looking to capitalize on a gestating shift in the industry.
Data collection for the purpose of tailoring ads to each visitor, a process called “behavioral targeting,” has exploded in recent years. Now, several initiatives are jockeying to become the standard way by which people can opt out of Web-advertising systems that log browsing history.
So far, online ad agencies and their Web-publisher clients have operated without many restraints. Yahoo, for instance, automatically tells 75 different third-party services when a person has landed on its home page, and Microsoft’s MSN.com, another portal, transmits similar information to 41 third-party databases, according to independent research conducted by privacy-software firm Disconnect and reviewed by CNN.
News sites like CBS’ CNET.com sends info to 46 third parties, and the Walt Disney Company’s Go.com, which hosts ESPN.com, alerts 41, according to this data, compiled by Disconnect founder Brian Kennish.
“In recent years, many players have entered the behavioral targeting space,” wrote researchers from NYU and and Stanford University in a recent report. This type of ad targeting “holds the promise of more effective advertising while presenting users with ads that are more relevant to their interests.”
CNN.com shares limited information with 31 partners. CNN and most other sites don’t share names of visitors.
Not all the companies collecting such information are doing so for advertising purposes. Some, like comScore and Omniture, use the data for traffic-analytics services they sell to publishers. Other clients such as Facebook and Twitter receive that information when their link-share buttons appear on a page but say they don’t use the data for tracking purposes.