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Web Tracking (2) - Why Websites are tracking you, how can tracking affect you, and how to delete your Google search history

Rami AlbatalJul 5, 2019, 1:52:20 PM
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This is the second part of a blog series about privacy and tracking on the web.

In the previous blog I have covered the concept of web tracking and provided few statistics about the big players in this domain.

In this part, I will explain why websites are tracking you, how tracking can actually cost you money, and finally I will demonstrate how to delete your Google search history in order to prevent trackers from accessing this search information.

Why tracking?

Surprisingly, tracking is the core technology generating profit for big giants like Google and Facebook. It is the engine that amalgamating personal data from all over the internet in order to digest it and put it in the service of Ads targeting software.

For example, most people think that Google's business is  "search," but actually Google isn’t a search company, they’re an advertising company.

Google sells ads not only on their search engine, but also on over 2.2 million other websites and over 1 million apps. Every time you visit one of these sites or apps, Google is storing that information and using it to target ads at you.

If you want to stop websites from remarketing to you, you can use some browser extensions that block Ads tracking. You can find here a list of ad and tracking blocking extensions.

tracking can actually cost you money!

Retailers are increasingly charging “personalized” or “dynamic” prices based on your online footprint. They manipulate the prices, in order to maximize what they think you’re willing to pay. Two people might be just beside each other, looking at the same online product, and they might be charged differently just because the differences of their search and browsing histories.

This practice is very familiar with airline industry, where Google's ITA QPX Software; which provides solutions to airlines to price "by market segment, point-of-sale, channel and even user."

That profit comes right out of your pocket because they decided you were willing to pay more for your flight based on tracking.

This pricing strategy has long been used in other industries. The Wall Street Journal ran a study on the matter as far back as 2012:

Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1000142412788732377720457818939181388153 

Delete your Google search history

For the moment, and before publishing my next blog, please go ahead and delete your search history in Google search to prevent it from being used by the highest bidder on the millions of sites and apps that use Google's advertising networks.

Here are the steps to delete your search history from Google:

    1. Go to this link: https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity

    2. Click on the dots on the top-right hand of the page

Your activity page on Google

    3. Click on "Delete Activity By.."

    4. Select "All Time" then hit delete!

If you have reached this stage, Congratulations! you have done a significant stand up against web tracking.

In the next blog I will be explaining about the Incognito Browsing Mode and how to increase your anonymity on the web.

Resources

    * https://spreadprivacy.com/followed-by-ads/

    * https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323777204578189391813881534

    * https://spreadprivacy.com/ads-cost-you-money/

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