Is online privacy under threat?

How would you feel when somebody is watching you when you are alone? Do you feel that your privacy is at risk with such intruders?

With huge amount of online activity happening all over the world, there is huge amount of new data being created. Every user is being tracked in one way or other. There exists no real privacy to anyone.

The surge of internet in the new millennium and the exponential increase in the number of users of internet has contributed to large amounts of data. This data is not left idle. It is being mined by few corporations for advertising.

I have searched amazon.in to buy a product few days ago. I could not find appropriate one and closed the Amazon site and opened thehindu.com to look for news updates. I could see the products which I searched earlier in Amazon a few minutes ago appearing at the online ads in The Hindu’s website. I don’t know the real culprit who intruded into my online activity. Is it Amazon or some other third party ad agency?

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By DonkeyHotey, CC by 2.0

Not only your online search terms, your location is also being tracked. Two months ago, I traveled to Bangalore on a personal work. During my stay in Bangalore for two days, I received few SMS from OLA regarding various offers for rides in their cabs. I never called OLA and informed them I was travelling to Bangalore. But the GPS in my phone did everything. They were tracking my movements from Chennai to Bangalore. Thank God!! There is no OLA in my hometown. Otherwise my inbox would get bombarded with their promotional messages every time I go home.

Generally while creating an online account at any place we would check in a box, I AGREE because we could not afford time and energy to understand their various terms and conditions. While installing an application in your phone or computer, we generally do this; Next, Next, Next, Next, Next and Finish and later Exit. That’s all our privacy is finished.

While our online activity is tracked every time, few people and organizations argue that this kind of target marketing is to provide you with the best product and service available in the market. This is bullshit. When I search for Titan watch, do I get a Rolex? No. Never. Then where the hell is the best product and service.

The most disgusting thing I have seen in this complex online marketing is IRCTC. When you search for a train in IRCTC website say from Chennai to Kochi, there are some ads shining brightly in the website throwing away information about private travel services providing buses from Chennai to Kochi. In this case, IRCTC, a government entity is sharing our plans to a third party.

You may wonder why bother about this phenomenon. Why should we worry about our online activity being tracked?

  1. Through online target marketing, you are shown products of selected brands only. Like I mentioned before when I search for Titan I won’t get Rolex. Your activity and personal information is shared with others without your consent which we should really worry about. What if the information is landed somewhere else in wrong hands?
  2. Your tastes and preferences will be altered through this target online marketing. You would be ignorant of many other better things available in the market.
  3. It is your personal data, your activity and belongs to you. But a stranger sitting somewhere in the world is making money out of your personal data. Are you Okay with this fact?

You can change the browser privacy settings and disable cookies. But you are not at all left alone. You are being watched.

Feature Image by Perspecsys Photos, CC by SA 2.0

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