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Persona (non) grata

Persona (non) grata

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There is demand for your every query

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Surely, most Anti-virus Times readers have found themselves in situations of this kind. You submit a query to a search engine and suddenly advertisements related to the very goods you've been reading about appear in your browser. Or perhaps you've found the product you need on a website and leave since you’re not ready to make your purchase, but then ads from that very online store flood your vision on other sites. And this is all within the space of just a couple of minutes! This means that the information about your search query is associated with your computer and it has already been sold to advertisers.

For some reason, many people believe that in countries that adhere to the values of democracy and preserve the human rights of their citizens, personal data is stored where it cannot be accessed by third parties. However, in reality, the situation is quite different.

Software developers not only collect information off the computers of people who use their products (both paid and gratis), but also sell the data to other companies. Search engine developers do the same thing as do owners of sites that let users create personal account areas.

Naturally, the data doesn't contain any information that can be used to identify users; it is only used for marketing purposes.

But there are also companies that have access to all the information that is transmitted from your computer—those are ISPs.

Access providers have been eyeing this tempting morsel hungrily for quite some time—after all, all the information that others sell is transmitted via their servers and gateways!

The US Senate voted to repeal FCC privacy rules that oblige US providers to request permission from their customers to use, exchange or sell their confidential information to advertising companies and other third parties.

The privacy rules were adopted in October 2016 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the Obama administration. According to the rules, such companies as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T had to get users' consent before they could use or sell their confidential information, e.g., their browser history, mobile application data, email account and instant messaging information. The providers were reluctant to comply with this policy because it made monetizing customer data more complicated.

They believe that divulging information about a user’s web search history does not violate that user’s privacy. Thus, with the help of providers, information about all customer activities on the Web is readily available to third parties.

Many people are already accustomed to using all sorts of browser plugins to block scripts that gather user data. But the Senate resolution mentioned above renders all these protective measures ineffective. Even if you disabled cookies and scripts on web pages and took other steps to prevent your data from being collected on the World Wide Web, all of your search queries, as well as your other information, are transmitted via your ISP's network anyway. So now it is up to the providers to decide what server they will use to transmit this data to other companies.

#Internet #anonymity #personal_data

The Anti-virus Times recommends

  1. In the virtual world it only seems like your identity is concealed from others. Anonymity on the World Wide Web is an illusion—and it also sells well!
  2. Nothing is more volatile than the values of democracy. Just make some noise about ISPs’ freedom being violated and their business being restricted, and throw in some convincing arguments, and voilà —user privacy is no longer a value to be protected by the government but a commodity to sell in order to achieve maximum profit.
  3. Today installing an anti-virus is not enough to keep your data secure. Even if your machine is not infected with malware, that doesn't necessarily mean that no one is gathering information about you. And it’s not the government that’s doing it—it’s not interested in the vast majority of law abiding citizens.
  4. All of your activities on the Internet, including banner clicks, generate information about you that can be sold. We would like to once again remind our readers that many advertising sites are fraudulent, and when their owners purchase user data, they aren't driven by noble motives.
  5. Ultimate discretion and caution are essential for protecting personal information. It’s easy to post photos of yourself with your new car or your brand-new smartphone, or while on holiday in some exotic place, but deleting them is virtually impossible. Do you want scammers to track how your income grows?
  6. At Doctor Web we don't sell information about the people who use our products and have accounts on our sites. We strictly adhere to our privacy policy. If you want to learn more about its terms, you can find a link at the bottom of every page on our site If you don't agree with its terms, you can stop using our services at any time.


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