Reduce Your Digital FootprintFeb 03, 2018
AUTHOR: Katherine Fitzgerald, Law student, University of Paris 8
The Internet is ubiquitous and it has become an integral part of our consumer experience. Honestly I can’t remember the last time I booked a trip or purchased a movie ticket without going online. And whilst this may be an overwhelmingly good thing, there are nonetheless inconveniences.
A major problem with buying online is the digital footprint we leave behind, a kind of breadcrumb trail of information. Even on social media sites, our habit’s or ‘Likes’ illustrate our preferences and in turn this information can be used for target advertising.
This is done through the use of “cookies” which are a kind of short term memory for the web. They are stored in our browsers and enable a site to “remember” little bits of information between pages or visits. Cookies are widely used to make the web experience more personal, which is generally a positive thing. However some cookies collect data across many websites, creating 'behavioural profiles' for each of us. These profiles can then be used to decide what content or advertisements to show us. Indeed it has never been so easy to be targeted through online advertising.
To avoid the trap there are a few tricks to learn and put into use.
When it comes to buying online, don't be an impulsive shopper. Indeed it is critical that you shop around, and view fares and prices on more than one site.
When shopping online, use more than one browser, or more than one computer if possible. This will prevent the website from recognizing you upon a second visit (as the IP address is different) and therefore avoid a price increase if you do choose said product.
Open a browser under “private browsing”. This option is available in Google Chrome, Firefox as well as Internet Explorer. For most browsers you simply click the menu and then click on new private browsing window. This will allow you to browse freely but upon closing the window all information collected by the Cookies is deleted.
So, whilst leaving cookie breadcrumbs does seem somewhat inevitable, there are steps that have and can be taken to protect us.
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