The past is a ghost, or was it the future?

NOAA Ocean Explorer: NOAA Ship Okeanos Explore...

Ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers, other companies, and perhaps even the government, are interested in your activity. So there are “invisible” trackers to track your tracks.

Most are absolutely harmless. Some record your detailed web browsing history, including data you submit to websites: website address, webpage, date, time of connection, GET and POST parameters.

Darknet

The Deep Web (also called Deepnet, the invisible Web, DarkNet, Undernet or the hidden Web) refers to World Wide Web content that is not part of the Surface Web. Like an ocean, with all kinds of beings hidden below the surface. Trackers, unreachable machines, deep private schools of fish, all swimming around. Some bottom feeders on the seafloor. Quite the ecology.

Not all fish are predators

This is a wordpress, and it tracks you invisibly. For my benefit. It counts visitors, and this way I know which blogs hit home and which don’t. It is basically anonymous tracking. It doesn’t give me any other info than that one more person was here. And when you leave this blog, the tracker doesn’t follow you.

Anti spam plugins track more data for finding who is a likely spammer in comments posted. It gets recognised, and then I can trash it.

Ad networks

Schools of advertisers and web sites that travel together. Like pilot fish and whales. The key function of an ad network is aggregation of ad space supply from publishers and matching it with advertiser demand. In a way, wordpress.com is an ad network too. Like nings. Both serve its people that provide content, which in turn brings visitors, and serves advertisers with spaces for advertising their content. A yearly fee has ads removed.

I might. I have on one of my other blogs. Personally, I no longer “see” ads on the internet. My brain has trained itself to no longer have my eyes drawn there. Not consciously that is. And if you are not among those that can do that, the ads can be annoying. Try AdBlock.

Targeted networks

These specialize in using consumer clickstream data to enhance the value of the inventory they purchase. Some like Comscore Beacon include social graph technologies which attempt to enhance the value of inventory using connections in social networks. And this is a fast growing industry. If the semantic web comes through, it will be huge. You will be tracked.

Comscore Beacon operates under multiple stealth names such as VoiceFive Networks and Secure Studies. Marketers employ VoiceFive Networks to carry out a variety of projects including attitude and usage studies, discrete choice analyses and recall studies.

Get Ghostery

Ghostery is available for Firefox and Google Chrome (go to tools -> extensions -> search for more extensions).

After showing you who’s tracking you, Ghostery also gives more info about each company it identifies. How they describe themselves, a link to their privacy policies, extremely simple popularity stats, and pages where it was found. With such data, research on a particular company becomes easy. Especially if they do use stealth trackers, you will probably find blogs and forums mentioning complaints quite fast.

Next you can block scripts from companies that you don’t trust, delete local shared objects, and block images and iframes.

Ghostery puts your web privacy back in your hands. If you’re using Firefox. The blocking feature on Chrome itself is not fully developed yet at the moment, and Ghostery can lock up.

Extreme Paranoia

My best paranoia move: Oh Yeah, this could be an excellent strategy to push the other stalking predators out of the game. Mega-stalking! Wouldn’t you just know it! A Top Predator! Let’s not get gullible now with yet another doctored spin.

Just so that the best paranoia among us may relax (some), the ghostery code is open.  Paranoia is good. Just give it hands and feet to defend itself. Become your own expert and decision maker. Do not depend on others. Ghostery makes that possible.

The Future

If we do not want such ghosts to grow huge in the future, we will have to keep tracking the trackers, respectfully provide ourselves and others with choices, and share our findings on where the stealthy big predators lurk. And we can choose to use Tor too.

 

Advertisements

Posted on February 24, 2011, in Tools and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s