Who’s Following You?

Have a look over your shoulder. Do you know who is following you at this very moment? You may feel a heavy weight on your shoulders because you’re being followed by an army of adtech companies hungry for your data! There are literally hundreds of them tracking your phone, your web browser, even your television. We know this because both industry and government regulators have begun to track the trackers. There are lists of these adtech companies, along with links to their surveillance (privacy) policies, their own websites and their own locations. I’ve begun to assemble a Google Earth directory of these companies so you can virtually fly over to them as an amusing way to visit and see why they want your data so badly! These companies are worth millions because they are tracking your digital breadcrumbs and assembling a dossier about YOU and millions of others to sell to the highest bidder.

If you get tired of the surveillance, you can take steps to get these adtech companies off your back. You can use a privacy-oriented web-browser like Brave. You can “opt-out” of some tracking on industry websites like https://optout.aboutads.info or https://youradchoices.com/control. You can refuse to accept “cookies” from strangers, just like your mother always taught you. You can use a virtual private network and a private email service like Protonmail to encrypt your communications. Are you still using Yahoo mail owned by Verizon? Verizon has announced “just in time” ad delivery to Yahoo email addresses when they notice you online checking your mail. It’s all so creepy. You can opt out of that too if you dig your way far into Verizon’s privacy pages.

These are distinct measures you can take to somewhat lessen the burden of being followed around the web. There are other threats to your privacy offline as well. Check out my new website https://chicagoprivacyproject.com for a few more things you can do to protect yourself.

What’s your experience and expectations about virtual surveillance on the web? Have you taken steps to stop the trackers?

Attorney. Certified Information Privacy Professional. Founder of Chicago Privacy Project and Windy City Explorers.