Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

Summary: Did you know that 60 ad networks may be tracking you right now? And may be selling personally identifiable details about you? The good news: you can opt out of these networks in less than 3 minutes. Here's how.

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Did you know that 60 ad networks may be tracking you right now? And may be selling personally identifiable details about you? The good news: you can opt out of these networks in less than 3 minutes. Here's how.

Forget about privacy? Online behavior tells a great deal about us: our food likes; the car we drive; our income level; religion; gender; sexual preferences; diseases; job status; and, how many and how old our children are. Traditionally, we've considered much of this information to be no one's business but our own.

But thousands of companies would like to make our business their business. And with the Internet and cookie tracking, they can.

The Wall Street Journal has been running a series on personal data collection by Internet companies. They've proved what many suspected: unchecked data collection is eliminating our traditional zone of privacy.

The WSJ lays out the case of Linda Twombly, a senior citizen in New Hampshire, that it identified from data provided by one ad network, RapLeaf.

The data covered dozens of aspects of her life. The Journal was able to decode 26 of these segments.

Who cares? Some argue that if we are doing something that we don't want other people to know about, then maybe we shouldn't be doing it. Or that the benefits of advertising that targets our interests outweigh a modest loss of privacy.

But not all personal details are created equal. An interest in radio controlled model aircraft is one thing. The fact that we support legal medical marijuana is very different.

Students of history know that activities acceptable in one decade can invite ridicule or worse in another. In the 1940s the Soviet Union was our ally in World War II. We sent billions of dollars in aid and they bore the brunt of the battle against the Nazi war machine.

But a decade later congressional committees were hounding those suspected of being too sympathetic to the Soviet Union. Careers were destroyed, huge legal bills incurred and lives were disrupted for years.

Does the average Internet user know how much is being collected and who is buying it? Clearly, the answer is no.

Take some control Commendably, some in online advertising know that they can choose between regulating themselves and being regulated by our democratically elected representatives. The Network Advertising Initiative is a group of over 60 advertising networks that track your Internet behavior.

They'll tell you how many networks are on your system. I was startled to find I had cookies from all but 5.

Enter one of your e-mail addresses, click “select all” and submit. They'll send a confirming e-mail with a link. Click on that and you're done. Enter as many e-mail addresses as you use.

The Storage Bits take Massive storage and the Internet are wonderful things. But like many other wonderful things they have unintended consequences.

One of those consequences is the loss of personal privacy. In the abstract having advertising targeted to our personal issues and concerns is a good thing.

But should a grandmother surfing the web with her six-year-old grandchild have to answer the question “Grandma, what is herpes?”

The NAI is giving some control back to us. I urge every reader to see what networks are tracking you today. I doubt that plugs every hole in our online privacy. But it's a start.

Comments welcome, of course.

Topics: Networking, Browser, Legal

About

Robin Harris has been a computer buff for over 35 years and selling and marketing data storage for over 30 years in companies large and small.

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54 comments
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  • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

    where's the url for out-out ?
    jinishans
    • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

      @jinishans http://www.networkadvertising.org/managing/opt_out.asp
      ihatevi
    • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

      @jinishans <br>Thanks for flagging this. In a rush to get to Silicon Valley today for the OpenStorage Summit I neglected to put text into the link.<br><br>Fixed.<br><br>Robin
      R Harris
    • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

      @jinishahttp:

      //www.networkadvertising.org/managing/opt_out.aspns
      razzamatazzer@...
  • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

    I found I had to override my browser's cookie settings to accept 3rd party cookies for all the networks to take effect.
    Admin71
  • Got link?

    just sayin
    bg7566
  • This is useless because

    This is useless because if you delete cookies or have them deleted automatically you will have to do this all over again,daily.
    NO advertiser should be spying on what we do without us being able to opt-in to giving the information of what we do in the internet.
    Stan57
    • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

      Stan57 gets a cookie!

      This is worse than useless, because the very method provided to grant us a minimal amount of control (based solely upon trust) of a non-trustworthy third party entity requires that we disable the only thing that grants any protection now.

      I don't know about you, but I'll keep dumping any cookies accumulated during a session after every session, thank you.
      ghastly
    • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

      @Stan57 I agree. Ironically, when I clicked the link the first thing they wanted me to accept a cookie. Of course I said Deny. End of story.
      doodle47
    • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

      @Stan57

      I would think that the SITE cookies are the ones you want to keep. The cookies for the ad banners and such? Not so much.
      dcnblues
  • buy a domain for 15 bucks a year, setup email and give out aliases

    When they start to spam an alias, delete it.

    Been doing this for years... you would be suprised that most people dont question when i give them an email with their company name in at my domain name. I just tell them, spam it and i will delete the account.

    Generally companies wont spam me, but some choose to start or sell my info, so i just delete them and never have to deal with them again. Also helps me create a blacklist of companies i will try not to deal with again.

    You could also give them a catch all email and only go in to retrieve specific emails, just make sure it clears mail automatically.
    Been_Done_Before
    • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

      @Been_Done_Before

      Sounds like way too much work to be worth the time. I'll let other people filter for me instead.
      MisterFish
      • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

        @MisterFish are you that lazy. It took about 3 minutes, really. Guess you must have a lot of important work to do or are just incredibly self-centered and lazy as can be.
        dl@...
      • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

        @MisterFish It's really not much work. Yahoo offers a throwaway email service for a fee, too, although I personally use a catch-all address on my own domain and it gives me GREAT control of my email, even knowing who gave the spammer my email address, based on what address it's sent to. I've blocked a few "to:" addresses and haven't heard from those spammers since. As a bonus, my Gmail account grabs email from my catch-all, making things even easier.
        Even my friends are given throw-away addresses, heh. I hate email postcard sites.
        Garrett Williams
      • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

        @MisterFish
        Other people's filters (such as Zone Alarm's and our ISP's) are unreliable, sometimes trapping very normal looking emails while sometimes letting through very obvious spam. Dealing with their flaws is a real nuisance.

        I have been giving out unique email addresses on my URL for many years and it works great. About the only time I have to give someone an email address is when I'm also setting up a password, so it's all part of the same process and my password program keeps track of both the email addresses and the passwords. No trouble at all.
        nfordzdn
    • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

      @Been_Done_Before Yahoo! premium membership for $20 per year has the same capability. Create disposable inboxes on-the-fly, delete them if they become spam magnets, plus POP3 and webmail that work well, and one of the best spam filters I've seen. I'm coming up on one year of a trial run, and I'm happy.
      phil8192
    • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

      @Been_Done_Before You don't even have to buy a domain, most mail-host services allow you to set up 'dummy' email aliases with an extra entry in the domain section of the address.

      As for filtering the email, set up a filter that redirects all mail NOT sent to a specific address into the Bulk Mail bucket. You can then review, or delete, at your leisure.
      dcnblues
    • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

      @Been_Done_Before I even give my FRIENDS throw-away email addresses for me. After receiving email postcards from various sites, I found this to be a great solution.
      It gets tricky when I have to come up with an email address on the fly. "Erm, it's fromxyzcompany@..." "No, I want YOUR address". I've had to explain my throwaway email system to various people. I tell them "It helps to verify who sent me the email, especially if I don't recognize the email address it's coming from." A nice way of saying, "If the address gets to a spammer, I know who gave it to them.", but it's come in handy when I didn't know who an email was from, too. On resumes, I have to be extra creative so it doesn't look like a throw-away address, & keep a record of the trickier ones.

      I definitely recommend this solution to people, & feel free to simplify things. It's probably okay to give one email address on all job applications, since it's likely going straight to the trash anyway. Oh, and if you do this, immediately block the addresses "info@", "marketing@", and "sales@". First-hand experience.
      Garrett Williams
  • Where do you plug in your e-mail address?

    Hmm... I don't see it.
    Smart_Neuron
    • RE: Opt out of 60 ad networks in 3 minutes

      @Smart_Neuron You don't. Instead, you accept a new set of persistent cookies from www(dot)networkadvertising(dot)org. It's obviously not portable from machine to machine. For every machine you run, you'll need to visit the site and run the opt-out dialog again, and again if you purge all your browser cookies.
      phil8192