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Who is tracking you?


Most people surf the web freely without giving much thought as to what personal information they might be sharing with others. Most of us realize that advertisers track you when you go to a website, presumably to better target their ads to you. You’ve probably seen an advertisement for a new car if you been searching the web for car models. The ads don’t just seem to follow you as you go from site to site…they really are following you. This type of tracking is fine with most people. Better targeted ads can be helpful and at worst we can just ignore them.

As we surf the web, vast amounts of data are collected about you that are packaged by data collection companies and sold to the highest bidder. Now imagine a credit reporting agency tracking your web browsing sessions looking for clues as to your credit profile. How about a life insurance company looking for risky behavior that they could use to deny you a policy? Details about your political leanings, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and countless other facts are being mined with every web page and every click.

BC Krishna, one of my past clients at Greylock-backed FutureTense, shared a Tech Republic blog post on the topic which you can read here… http://tek.io/w9N28x

The blog post highlights a Chrome extension called DoNotTrack+ that can disable tracking. As an added benefit, web pages load a bit faster because you’re not waiting for the tracking companies to do their thing. You can download the extension here… http://bit.ly/AnWTVL I installed it and went to LinkedIn to see who was tracking me there. Here’s the list:

Twitter: I have my Twitter account linked to my LinkedIn profile. Twitter now has access to my professional summary which it is free to sell to anyone.

2 Ad Networks: Dedicated Networks and Quantcast

4 Companies: In addition to the two above, Comscore and Google are tracking me.

When you visit any page that has a Facebook ‘Like’ button (even if you don’t click it), Facebook is tracking you. The same goes for Google+ and Twitter. It’s troubling to think that any buyer of that data would have access to my personal information for whatever purpose they see fit. These data mining companies know more about you than your closest friends. That’s creeping me out. I feel a little better now that I have DoNotTrack+ installed but I’m confident the tracking companies will constantly look for ways to block it if it gets widespread adoption.

Tim O’Loughlin

Eastward Capital Partners

432 Cherry Street

West Newton, MA 02465

o: (617) 762-3611

c: (617) 947-6272

http://www.eastwardcp.com

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Eastward Capital Partners – providing $1 – 10 million venture debt, growth capital and equipment financing to venture-backed, emerging growth companies since 1994. We also provide expansion capital to non venture backed companies.

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Tim O’Loughlin

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