Shine a Light on Online Tracking

Check out the latest from Debra Diener, courtesy of Privacy Made Simple.

 

Many consumers know that advertisers and companies are tracking their online footprints.  People might not like it but they accept it as part of using the Internet regularly.

Mozilla understands that consumers might want to know whose tracking them. To do so, Mozilla created Lightbeam, a new app that allows consumers to do just that.  It’s an add-on that can be downloaded onto the Firefox browser.  Lightbeam is an updated version of Collusion which is an earlier Firefox add-on.

How does Lightbeam work?  Nick Heath has an excellent article that also has a screen shot showing how LIghtbeam works (www.zdnet.com; “Want to know who’s spying on you online? There’s an app for that”; October 25).   In a nutshell, per Mr. Heath, each time a consumer visits a website Lightbeam will log “….every web address that is connecting to your machine, revealing how visiting a single website can result in your computer to (sic) connecting to many different web servers. Each of these servers may be controlled by different companies, and send and collect different information —for example, serving up images and adverts on the site or placing tracking cookies on your computer.”

Mr. Heath’s screen shot is a visual depiction of what a consumer will be able to see about the tracking.

I went to the Mozilla site to read more about Lightbeam (https://addons.mozilla.org; “Lightbeam for Firefox 1.0.2″).  The Mozilla site has more details about Lightbeam and the fact that it will enable consumers who download it to see both first and third party sites with which the consumer is interacting.  Consumers will, per the Mozilla article, be able to save a copy of the “connection history” which is the place where a consumer “…can see the specific data collected by the add-on.”

Consumers might want to take a look at Lightbeam, if for no other reason, to understand more about the different methods being used for online tracking.

Re: Web Privacy Becomes a Business Imperative

New York Times article Web Privacy Becomes a Business Imperative by Somini Sengupta discusses web privacy affecting businesses’ bottom line. As Mozilla’s Chief Privacy Officer says in the article:

“They’re asking for a different level of privacy on your service,” he said, “You have to listen to that. It’s critical to your business.”

Finally. More Internet companies are realizing the truth behind what PPR has said all along: products and services that don’t offer real privacy and security don’t fly with consumers. While some still may debate the exact meaning of “privacy,” what we consistently see is that consumers want to have control over what happens with their data. It’s about time we start listening to what the public wants and honor everyone’s right to be let alone as they see fit.