Life free of digital footprints should be a human right

The feeling that somehow, somewhere, someone connected the dots between your recent live chat session with your online florist and your Facebook account, or Google, or some other service or site that makes billions of dollars on selling your personal Internet usage data. That feeling.

Using a browser plug-in that detects known so-called trackers makes for some rather disturbing revelations. It’s not just about “ad blockers”, or “pop-up blockers”, or disabling support for “third-party cookies”. Many sites stop working cold when you block stuff that has no business being there in the first place.

When your online florist decides to add live chat support to their website they are putting their own business and your integrity at risk. And in many cases they are not even aware of it, nor should they have to be.

So the supplier of the live chat support drops in 10-12 known trackers, including Google, Facebook, Now Interact, and many many more. The live chat function doesn’t work if you have third-party cookies disabled in your browser. In other words, they require you to enable the possibility for sites to indirectly add tracking data to your browser, and you don’t even have to visit those sites.

Your online florist is paying the live chat supplier. The live chat supplier gets money from your florist, from advertisers, and from “web analytics” companies for including a number of trackers in their services. The advertisers and “web analytics” companies then sell advertising slots, perhaps to your online florist (can you say catch-22 ..)

What your online florist may fail to understand is that you as their customer cannot use their live chat support if you block things. So for you, the customer, and your online florist, it’s a lose-lose situation. For the live chat supplier and the advertising and tracking companies, it’s win-win. And a few months down the road, your friends on Facebook will receive suggestions about buying flowers online because you happened to use a live. And the suggested place of purchase will not be your online florist.

The point here is not that it’s impossible to prevent tracking. The point is that many things on the Internet stop working for “common people” if you do attempt to prevent tracking.

(And why would you want to use a live chat function in the first place? Because many companies are so bad at responding to customer support e-mails that you will grow old and senile waiting for a response. By the time it arrives, you won’t remember why you asked the questions in the first place.)

And the biggest problem of all? Nobody seems to care until it’s way too late. And by that time, you will realize that you have been tracked for the past 15-20 years, your children have been tracked since they were born and given their first Gmail account, and so on … maybe your biggest fear should not be giving out your credit card details online or what the NSA knows about your sexual preferences 😉

You may now resume power saving mode … Zzz zzzZzzz 

2 thoughts on “Life free of digital footprints should be a human right”

  1. Do you think there is a way for the Internet to currently exist, without some sort of privacy infrigements?

    1. I’m not sure we can get rid of all of the surveillance, but I think we could reach quite far, if authorities and companies we part of the plan so to speak. As long as authorities and companies have the “need” to monitor information, it will probably be quite hard to accomplish. As as service provider, I would, however, have no issue with removing all sensitive tracking information from e-mail, blog posts, etc. Keep it for 180 days and then be forced to remove it … I know this is oversimplified, and I know there are situations where the information may actually prove more useful than harmful. But those are very few and far inbetween.

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