Tips & Advice

Who’s tracking you?

Dawn Leonetti, 28 May 2018

Your data is definitely being tracked, and here’s what you need to know.

Online privacy is under the microscope, no doubt about it — first the US lost net neutrality, then the news breaks about Cambridge Analytica and 87 million Facebook users, and then we’ve got the GDPR which just took effect last  week. Amidst all this opining, lobbying, arguing, and defending, it’s interesting to see who is riled up about the matter and who is not. How concerned are YOU about having your privacy protected online?

Data tracking is rampant

If you’re not too concerned, then you seem to be in the majority. Despite a widespread trend to “DeleteFacebook” following the revelation that it collects and stores valuable data on all its users, and despite CEO Mark Zuckerberg being called to Capitol Hill for the company’s part in possibly delegitimizing the 2016 presidential election, the social media titan boasts an ever-growing user base that is currently at 1.45 billion. The scandal did not discourage Facebook advertisers either, as they continue flocking to the company’s platform where together they spend billions of dollars in ad space.

We share our life experiences with each other on social platforms, so that’s where resourceful advertisers can harvest a wealth of useful data on each one of us individually. There are even data brokers who make a business out of mining public health records. Every piece of data about you comes together to form the jigsaw puzzle of what you like, what you need, what you want, and who you are. If advertisers find out you’re going camping, watch all the latest gear show up in ad spaces on your feed. Did you just announce you got a new puppy? Don’t be surprised when all those dog food ads show up.

The public is divided here. Some people are perfectly happy with advertisers catering to them. Great, they think, show me more of the items that interest me. But others get unnerved by it, likening it too much to 1984’s Big Brother keeping every individual under its all-knowing thumb.

Analysts report that this indifference regarding privacy skews to the younger generation, while Gen Xers are very concerned about identity fraud, privacy, and other key internet issues. This may be a result of the younger generations growing up in the age of social media. They may be more comfortable sharing their history with companies because it’s been common practice for them ever since their first “like.”

Some help? GDPR

Whichever way you feel on the matter, consumers everywhere got a stronger dose of protection last week when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect in the EU on May 25th. The GDPR demands that companies be more transparent in their data usage and ad sale practices, making them more accountable in how they use consumers’ individual data. You probably saw an uptick over the past few weeks in “Terms of Service” and “Privacy Policy” modals popping up in the apps you use and websites you visit, prompting you to read and agree to the revised policies. Take advantage of this opportunity to review their policies, learn how your information may or may not be tracked, and make an informed decision regarding your opt-in. You may even choose to opt-out.

Avast is actively participating and ensuring all new GDPR compliance rules are being met. We have always protected our users’ privacy in our software development practices and will, of course, continue to do so. We’re excited that the GDPR instills that same standard to which we subscribe to all other global companies.

More help: Anti-track software

Advertisers track you by following your digital fingerprint. Digital fingerprinting is a new, sophisticated way for content owners and advertisers to monitor and track you. All it takes is one visit to their sites, and they essentially have you uniquely tagged, where they can follow your web traffic and begin putting together a profile of who you are and what you would most likely buy.

This is where OUR newest technology comes in, effectively combating digital fingerprinting. Avast AntiTrack Premium not only tells you when you’re being tracked, but also tells you who is tracking you. It keeps your identity private, stops advertisers from targeting you specifically, and automatically erases your trail when you end your browsing session.  We also have an AntiTrack module in our recently released update Avast Secure Browser which protects you from being tracked when using Avast Secure Browser.

If you care about your privacy online, and you want to keep your data out of the hands of the highest bidder, then disguise your online identity with Avast AntiTrack Premium.

Download Avast AntiTrack Premium