TL:DR version: Please educate yourself about the value of your information online. This blog post shares possible strategies you can use to investigate, and possibly block some of the tracking services.
I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about the amount of information that is collected, stored, and aggregated on us as we search online. Privacy concerns mount as we daily learn about new businesses and agencies that are tracking and spying on what we do online.
I have concerns about this given the fact that I urge educators and students to move from content consumers, to content curators, to content constructors. My response to that has been that we need to educate, empower, and advocate for these freedoms and literacies. To that end, I wanted to share some recent information I learned about possible ways to protect yourself as you search and sift on the Internet.
In episode 414 of This Week in Tech, Ed Bott from zdnet.com discussed what people should be doing to protect themselves while they work online. Ed shared the following advice that I found fascinating…and wanted to document here. He indicated two things that you can do if you that if you want to protect yourself and block trackers from following you online:
- Lie. Ed’s advice was to “scramble your online profile intelligently.” The point is that if you don’t have to provide information about yourself to obtain products, or information…then you shouldn’t. The idea is that this redirects, or in Ed’s wording “scrambles” the information that trackers have about you across websites that you browse online.
- Use privacy tools. He recommended three tools in particular to install to your browser to inform you about the trackers that are following you, and block them if you so chose.
I just installed these three tools to Chrome to see what information was being collected about me. In the short time that I have been using it, I’m a bit shocked at some of the businesses that are collecting info on me that I don’t even know about. At this point it is very informative and I recommend that you all test out the three tools. I understand the logic behind intelligently scrambling your digital identity, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it wholesale across the Internet. I do think it calls for us to be more thoughtful about our digital identity and how we can create and curate this.
flickr photo by perspec_photo88 https://flickr.com/photos/111692634@N04/11406964665 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
Also published on Medium.