4 tools to stop online ads from tracking you


Are you concerned with all the discussion about online tracking by the government and private industry? There are some simple steps you can take to limit it.

The use of cookies to track your web browsing and serve up relevant ads is one of the easiest things to stop. For example, Firefox has a Do Not Track capability and Chrome has one too that you can easily activate in their browsers. In addition, Ad Block Plus will also help you block spying and online tracking when you’re surfing around, and it’s available for many popular browsers.

Read more: Forget phishing scams, criminals are now using your everyday activities to steal from you

Smartphone privacy is important too

But the greatest breach of your privacy is through smartphones. They are a gold mine for people looking to track you, dissect who are and sell to you. In fact, you have to go back to using a feature phone if you want to avoid data miners!

Tech giants like Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Google can all track users across devices, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, only 6% of all marketers can reliably track consumers across device, according to the research firm eMarketer. But more will get that capability as technology advances.

So if you really want to go off the grid, consider a feature phone like an older flip-phone, use cash instead of credit or debit and don’t surf the web. There are less extreme ways to mitigate and limit tracking too. For example, you might segregate your e-mails and/or browsers — one e-mail for social media, another for e-commerce, another for news and info sites, etc.

For everybody else who wants to live in the modern age, consider these free browser add-ons to limit tracking:

  • Privacy Badger detects third-party domains and blocks if it can determine they are tracking you.
  • Disconnect blocks third-party trackers collecting, retaining or sharing user data. It also organizes blocked tracking requests into groups: Advertising, analytics, social media and content.
  • RedMorph blocks every tracking signal it detects, without discrimination between the good and the bad. In testing by the New York Times, it was the most thorough blocker of them all.
  • Ghostery puts the onus on you to select which trackers are legit and which to block.

You do have choices if you want to take some control. It’s only a question of how much control you want to take…

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