Where has my data gone?

Many people use the internet without thinking about to whom they give their data and where their data will go. It began with subscribing to newsletters in the late 1990’s and step by step data has developed into the gold of the internet. Today only few tools can be used without registration.

If we want to send an e-mail, search for information on Google, or buy books on Amazon our visits are traced. The companies tell us they need our data to give us better search results or to offer us books that we might want to read.  However our data is reported during our whole visit on the internet. Have you ever wondered why you got personalized adverts for clothing or movies on news sites where you haven’t searched for it?

The online advertisement market is dominated by few companies and one of them is Google. So imagine: What if your mail content from Google Mail, your search keywords, your posts on Google+ and even your planned routes with Google Maps were linked with your visits on several Websites which don’t belong to Google? And what if Google sells this cluster of information to other companies?

Data Dump | Foto: Seth Anderson, CC-BY-SA via flickr

Data Dump | Foto: Seth Anderson, CC-BY-SA via flickr

The boom of social networks accelerated the collecting, collating and analyzing of our data. If we visit news websites, blogs or a forum with integrated Facebook Like-Buttons the social network receives a message which contains information about articles we have read. In addition to that, Facebook is collecting and collating Information of our shared posts, photos and “Likes”.

Today the main problem is that nobody except of the companies knows exactly which kind of data is transferred to their servers but data protectionists offer some solutions to curtail the data flood:

Some Internet-Browsers can be configured to delete all cookies or other local collected data in the moment they are closed. You can make yourself unidentified by Google when you aren’t logged-in during your search and web admins can use so-called two click social buttons. Especially of interest is the option that every user can decide if his data might be transferred and further if yes to which social network. The two click social buttons have to be activated before they act like the common ones. Therefore always think about where your data will go!



Thema: Datensicherheit im Internet (Text in englischer Sprache). Der Beitrag entstand im Rahmen des Seminars International Journalism II an der Hochschule Darmstadt.

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