It seems that in this internet age we are slowly but surely giving away all of our personal and deeply important liberties. It feels like there is a new story every day of a tech giant selling our data or overstepping their boundaries. The confidence these big tech firms have comes from an awareness that the everyday internet user does not fully understand their internet rights. This has led almost every site using cookies to track and consume your internet footprint to distort to their own needs. This passage will aim to break down what a company is actually legally allowed to do with your data, so you know of and are aware of any wrong practices.
What Data can They Collect?
Firstly, I feel it is important to understand just what data a website can collect before we obviously go into how they choose to use it. Under current US internet law, any company can access your location information, how long you choose to spend on a website, your internet history, and the activity on any given site. So, please do keep this in mind as I examine what they choose to do with this information.
Targeted advertising may not be a practice that many are not even aware of, but companies can and will use your internet search history to give you certain advertisements. So, for a thought exercise let us say you have been searching for tennis rackets on google, you should then expect to see an uptick in tennis based advertisements. It is as simple as that. This most certainly does feel like quite a shady practice, that may be open to corruption. The idea in principle is meant to lead to advertisements that the user may find useful and relevant. As stated in the above text, this is companies using their access to your internet search history. So before consenting or ticking an option keep this in mind.
Site User Analytics
This is another practice you may not have been aware of, but companies will access your information to find out which demographics you fit into. Let us say that a company is looking for more users in the 18-25 female demographic, to understand how to reach their quotas they will access your data to see where you fit and what exactly you chose to interact with on the site. This means that companies will legally be able to see your name, age, and gender; to process and analyze as they please.
Companies often store the type of hardware that a consumer is using, in order to gain an understanding of your processing power. This will also be used to gain an understanding of when and where you choose to access different sites. If a user uses his computer mainly at home for recreative purposes then sites will store this information. This information is most often sold back to tech companies so they themselves can understand how their hardware processes different sites and software in the field.
If you are looking for extra safety then perhaps read the list of companies – fcra compliance site, and remember to always read the small print of any agreement, it truly does not matter how small it may seem. The agreements will usually come in the form of website cookies, and though they may seem innocent they do allow for far wielding access to your internet habits and personal information.