You are being tracked all the time you are on the Internet. You are being tracked by Facebook, Twitter, Google and many other companies. Your activity is being tracked by different ad agencies. Your ISP is tracking your movements on the Internet. There may be government agencies tracking you when you are on the Internet. But why would anyone track you? What will they gain? And most important of all, how to stop websites from tracking you? The following tries to answer these questions.
Why Do Agencies Track You?
You can see the social network buttons on different sites. These buttons track your behavior even if you do not click them. Social networks track your activities on the Internet to see what kind of posts are you liking and tweeting. This, they do to know what are you interested in. Facebook uses this information to provide you with relevant adverts while Twitter too uses the information in some way or the other. Basically, they want to know your interests and then use it for their benefits.
You might already know about Google Adwords. They provide you with adverts on the webpages you visit. Normally, when you visit a website using some kind of search, you will find that the adverts are related to the keywords you used in the search. Going a step ahead, Google started tracking you to know your interests. It no longer provides the ads based on search terms but also on the information it has collected about you. Ever wondered how you saw Google adverts related to that car you have been reading about?
Other than social networks and Google, there are different agencies such as Collective and Netratings. These agencies too track your online behavior to sell it to people who pay the most for it. They are information suppliers to online advertising companies who use information about you to lure you with targeted ads.
Among others who can track your browsing is your ISP and government agencies. ISP’s can intercept whatever websites you are visiting. Sometimes they record it for presenting the government with information when the latter asks for it.
It is possible that you stop all the above from tracking your movements on the web. One method to block people from tracking you is to use TOR browser. It creates a relay maze which confuses people tracking you to an extent that they cannot figure out what you are doing. TOR will also stop ISPs from prying on your online movements. However, the TOR browser is a little slow and you might find it difficult to use on pages with extensive use of scripts.
The other method is to use the browser add-ons available for preventing companies from tracking you. We will talk about Do Not Track Plus in this article.
Stop Websites From Tracking You – Do Not Track Plus
Do Not Track Plus is available for Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox. It also works with Epic, Opera and Safari. It can stop not only the online ad agencies but also Google Analytics from tracking your movements. Note that it won’t be able to prevent your ISP from snooping on your online activities. To bypass ISP, use TOR. For all others, Do Not Track Plus is good.
You can download and install the add-on from Abine website. Remember that you have to install the addon separately for each browser you wish to use. Also, you have to download the addon using each browser on which, you wish to install the addon. If you use IE and Chrome and want DNT+ on both, you have to download it two times – once using IE and once using Google Chrome to install it on both.
When installed, you can see a ring symbol towards the top-right corner of the browser. The number in the ring indicates how many companies have been blocked from prying you on a particular website. When you click on the ring, it opens to show you the details (See Image).
When you visit a website, the plugins and code on the website tells your browser to provide it with the information it needs – about what you are doing and who you are. Do Not Track Plus steps in between this communication and prevents the website from asking your browser for details. Thus, it saves you from being tracked.
If you need further privacy, i.e. if you want your footprints to be deleted from the Internet, there is a paid service called DeleteMe from the designers of Do Not Track Plus that helps you to remove your traces from the Internet. I have not checked it so cannot say how effective it is. For DNT+ however, I have been using it for months and can say it is effective – because I have stopped seeing ads based on what I have been reading on the Internet.
This is just one add on or method that answers – how to stop websites from tracking you. If you know of other methods, please share it with us.