Tracking the Companies That Track You Online
Data gathered through spying on internet users by the use of software that tracks their movements through the web is used for advertising purposes. Data collection is done by data brokers, tracking companies and advertising networks which then proceed to selling them to advertisers online on an exchange that is more like that of a stock-market. I think these data gathering techniques are unethical since majority of the internet users are often not aware that there is tracking and trading of their personal information. This is more like theft since it involves the extraction of ones thoughts, ideas and information without their consent.
This method of data gathering is different from the traditional ways of data collection such as surveys in various aspects. Contrary to traditional methods, the tracking companies that collect data online do not know the identity of the persons they are gathering data from. These companies know every other detail apart the name. Moreover, the participants whose data is collected are unaware that data is being collected from them. This is contrary to the traditional methods that require obtaining consent from the participants before collecting data from them. Hence, participants have a right to accept or refuse giving information. In the tracking method, information is obtained regardless of whether participants are willing to give information or not.
I have not seen the use of this technology as I surf. Though I have noticed beacons and cookies installed in the machines, I had no idea that their purpose was to track information online.
Tracking The Companies That Track You Online (February 7, 2011). Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2010
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