Online advertisers will do nearly anything to seduce you into revealing your personal details. Guard your name, email address and other details, and never give them away without good reason. Set up a throwaway mail account at a free Web service and use it, plus an assumed name, whenever you're required to fill out a survey to gain access to a Web site. And don't install new software unless you're certain it's safe.
For extra protection, monitor your cookie collection and weed out any whose purpose you don't clearly understand (Netscape Navigator users can search for a file called Cookies.txt; Microsoft Internet Explorer users should look in the Temporary Internet Files folder for text files that begin with the word 'Cookie'.)
For the strongest protection, use commercial blocking software to hide your identity when browsing the Web. Go to www.anonymizer.com to surf from an anonymous server. For more elaborate protection, download Freedom 1.0 from Zero-Knowledge (www.freedom.net). This compact program allows you to create multiple identities, or pseudonyms, and then route your Internet traffic through a series of servers that keep your true identity a complete secret.
Only a handful of Internet advertising agencies are responsible for virtually all the banner ads you see on the Web. Through sweepstakes, surveys and other come-ons, they try to entice you to provide personal information. However, most let you stop the data collection by "opting out".
Take me to the Surveillance 2 ZDNet News special.