We all know that Google, Amazon, Samsung, Facebook, and almost any website or application we use on Mac, iPhone, or iPad spy on us. Google gives us free software so we’ll be obligated to turn over private information about our online habits. Amazon makes shopping easy so we can be tracked. Facebook is free so we can be stalked. We’re so paranoid about our ISPs and hackers that we’ve moved almost en masse to virtual private networks (VPNs) to maintain a shred of online privacy.
Got VPN? How do you know the VPN isn’t spying on you, tracking your seemingly secure online travels, gathering information about you, matching said information up with other sources than can identify you, and then selling what it knows about your online habits? Got ad blockers? Are they tracking you?
I found this post on Reddit and it raises cause for concern. Who reads those Terms of Service these days? Not enough of us. In this case it was a VPN-based ad blocker app.
We may use the information we receive to provide, analyze, improve, and develop new and innovative services for users, Affiliates and third parties.
Seems innocuous enough, right? How about this:
For example, we may combine the information, including personally identifying information, that yo provide through your use of the services…
Uh oh. In essence, you’re being tracked by a service that tries to help you to avoid being tracked.
Apple has cracked down on some VPN-based ad blockers for similar privacy issues. If you want to block ads in Safari you’ll have to use a Safari-based ad blocker, of which there are many on the App Store. I use a few.
What I don’t want is to have advertisers and ISPs tracking my online habits and marrying that information with other data collected elsewhere. I use a VPN for a similar reason but we assume that both ad blockers and VPNs are not collecting information about our online usage and using it, selling it, or combining it with other easily collectible data.
Here’s my view of the ad tracking and tracker controversy.
In a capitalist society, everyone is out to get your money. How they do it varies, but a little paranoia goes a long way. After all, if everyone is out to get you, a little paranoia is the right attitude to have.