There is one particular issue that relates specifically to the
web and your surfing, buying and e-mailing habits. You should
know by now that every site you visit can place a "cookie"
on your hardrive which will record a few crumbs of information
This is harmless enough at first glance when all they seem to
care about is the time, date, length of stay and pages you visited
at their site. But when you know that advertisers that serve ads
from the sites you visit can also track your visit, link it to
other stored data about you gathered at other sites and finally
to any other information they have stored about you, how do you
This means that the harmless little "session number"
or "state data" gathered about you from every site you've
ever visited, every product you've ever purchased online and every
banner you've ever clicked on is stored in the database of the
ad server and distributed to it's clients!
learn how to disable cookies on your computer, click here.
Information provided by the largest cookie bakery on the web,
It is possible to set your browser to the "Do Not Accept
Any Cookies" option. I recommend you try it once, if only
for the enlightenment about how many sources are collecting information
about you. Some web pages will send as many as a dozen requests
for cookies and many web sites tell you flatly that in order to
use their online service "cookies must be enabled on your
browser" to use the site.
It gets tiring and frustrating clicking the "OK" button
in the warning box that appears each time your browser detects
a request to set a cookie on your hard drive, if you've checked
the "notify me" option in preferences.
If you want to get a clearer picture of how cookies can be used
to invade your privacy, I recommend an amazing demonstration of
how you can be followed around the web without your knowledge.
Privacy.net has set up a demo at:
You'll see how providing information in bits and pieces to multiple
web sites creates a cumulative database on your travels, habits
and preferences online. Prepare to be mildly miffed or fully outraged,
depending on your level of concern with invasion of privacy.
It is becoming increasingly complex to keep your private information
to yourself. The biggest advertisers online have created a method
which involves cookies which stop new cookies. You must get yourself
a set of "No Cookies For Me" cookies from a group set
up by this online advertising brain trust. Now ya gotta have a
new cookie to avoid getting any more cookies. No really, I couldn't
eat another bite, please! If you'd like to follow this recipe
for avoiding advertiser spying on your surfing habits, visit the
Network Advertising Initiative web site and go to the OPT
OUT page, which gives you the option to tick boxes to
opt out of cookies served by the largest six online ad servers,
- 24/7 Media
- Avenue A
- L90 Inc.
OK, now you're outta there, right? No, not necessarily. You've
opted out but you use your wifes' computer or you use a different
browser to visit sites that serve the cookies you don't want,
so you have to visit the OPT OUT page again and check off those
boxes for every computer and every browser you use. This could
get a bit tedious! Most surfers don't know that the browser launched
by their service provider might be different from the built-in
browser launched by their operating system on start-up by the
system. The ISP provided browser is yet another version. Which
one are you using now and on which computer and did you visit
the OPT OUT page with this one?
Fortunately, the NAI has set up a way for you to tell by going
to the verification page, which looks for those opt-out cookies
and verifies that you have them for each of the participating
ad networks. If you don't, you can go back to the OPT OUT page
and get new OPT OUT cookies. If that still doesn't work, you can
go complain to someone set up to police the activity of these
cookie monsters. Guess who arranged for this compliance service?
Those same advertisers. HMMMM. Well it's better than nothing.
Just visit the Arthur Anderson site called AndersonCompliance
Now you've filed a complaint and you can feel all better about
it right? Well only if they get a volume of complaints that suggests
a "significant" problem has occurred based on the number
of complaints filed, then they'll conduct an investigation. Man
that's a relief! I wonder if those ad networks will keep paying
these guys to tell them when they've gotten a significant number
of complaints? I wonder how much they pay for this service and
who monitors the people they are paying to tell them what they'd
like to hear? They'd probably stop paying me if I played this
role, because I'd be telling them every time a single complaint
Here's a GREAT tool to get off the
junkmail lists that is automated and easy. I've just stumbled
across the single most useful online tool I've seen for easing
junk mail and spam! By visiting the following URL and entering
your name and mailing address, you can auto-generate letters including
that information, along with any additional required stuff form
individual companies, into printable letters directly from your
browser that provide mailing addresses to dozens of marketing,
credit reporting and other organizations preconfigured and merged
into a personalized letter from yourself to those companies and
organizations requesting to opt-out from junkmail! In ten clicks
of the "next form" letter, I was able to request removal from
a raft of lists and it's possible to do more if you like by returning
and choosing different companies from the online form!
The site is a joint project with Center for a New American Dream,
and the Center For Democracy in Technology cooperatively using
technology to better facilitate Operation Opt-Out. I love it!
If I could generate automated labels to affix to my envelopes
and online postage, I'd call the tool remarkable! I will stop
short of that and say this is extremely useful.
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