With technology constantly evolving and improving, the incredible growth of the internet over the last decade and the ever increasing popularity of mobile use, governments and advertisers are becoming extremely interested in knowing what you are up to when browsing or shopping online. Online privacy has become a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
Have you ever noticed ads popping up on your screen directly connected with your previous searches? Have you ever noticed how after visiting a website, you are being re-targeted by this same website everywhere you go? These are signs that your web activity is being tracked.
Does it affect you? How to remain private?
Companies and marketers are always looking for new methods to increase their pool of customers and overall market share. While there are already many existing methods, marketers are still finding new, faster ways to gather information about online users. While there are quantities of tools & software to take into account, we take a look at most evident; Cookies.
A cookie is a set of data sent by a website to a browser and is used to store information about the user. In doing so, a customer’s web browsing behaviour is tracked to offer better search results or more accurate recommendations. For instance, a cookie would remember a shopping cart from a previous session, or would propose to fill automatically fields such as name, address, or credit card details. However, the other side of the coin is that they also enable companies to track your digital whereabouts. So while turning off your browser cookies can eliminate further tracking, it will also display search results less relevant to your personal needs.
Smartphones are no different.
Interestingly enough, a study shows that in 2015, 33% of online transactions happened through mobile connections, while mobile traffic represented 50.3% of the overall e-commerce traffic.
Blocking third-party cookies
Fortunately, every web browser would allow its users to turn off the third-party cookies tracking function. Without cookies, marketers will find it much harder to monitor your activity. While it is not a bulletproof solution in itself, it will deprive advertisers of the conventional techniques they use to build a customer profile out of your activity.
Most checkout pages are generally well secured. However, you’ll find it hard to feel completely safe when transacting online using your debit or credit card details. The industry is aware of it, and that’s why the vast majority of e-commerce websites are now accepting alternative payment methods to cards.
Alternative payment solutions
Digital wallets allow you to make a free bank transfer to a digital account, from which you can then pay or deposit at multiple websites without entering your bank details. It generally takes few days to upload funds from your bank into your wallet, but once loaded, they guarantee a high level of safety.
Using cash vouchers is a very simple solution to a complicated problem. Simply, you can purchase a voucher at a point of sale (usually at convenient stores or petrol stations) for a fixed amount of money, then redeem the amount online at your favourite merchant.
This solution represents a certain advantage as your banking details will never be displayed online, so it ensures your privacy from a financial fraud perspective. Indeed, most voucher solutions provide you with a pin code that you need to insert at your favourite merchants to redeem. Easy.
While these days it would take a long process to remain completely private online, some easy steps such as disabling cookies and using alternative payment solutions would put you on the right track to avoid the basic tracking practises.