The Real Deal: Opting-Out of Online Ads
Updated: Wednesday, March 20 2013, 12:56 PM EDT
ALBANY -- Most of us spend countless hours a day on the Internet but even if you're in the privacy of your own home, someone is likely seeing exactly what you're doing online. Many of us have no idea just how much information about about our habits is being collected.
Sanjay Goel is the Director of Research at the NYS Center for Information Forensics and Assurance at the University of Albany and says we should all assume we're being tracked all the time. "It's almost all websites, everywhere, they will track you because the data they collect on you is very valuable," he says. The sites you go to, the items you're buying online, the videos, games and movies you're downloading, is all being tracked, likely by 3rd party marketing companies through cookies.
"People can take this information, abstract it, generalize it and create a profile on you," says Goel. That's why the Federal Trade Commission along with several consumer protection groups have been calling for a "Do Not Track" list. Similar to the Federal Do Not Call list, we'd all have the option to opt out of 3rd party web tracking.
"Options are good, to have a yes or a no on privacy issues, especially, we're all so viral now," says John Thivierge of Albany. Ann Marie McGuire agrees, "I would much prefer that they don't try and track me, I don't need them to help me shop or send me coupons or do any of that stuff, no, I'd rather they didn't," she tells CBS6.
Google and many other large online advertisers have agreed to implement "Do Not Track" technology by the end of the year. The FTC is stressing though, it must be an option that can be easily chosen through a simple browser setting and if someone opts-out, a company must stop collecting information on them all together, not just stop marketing to them.
"You have a real life and then you have an online persona, it's just a question of combining the two and your complete identity is known, most people think that they can create a web identity which nobody will know anything about," but you can't says Goel, so it's better to be safe, than sorry.