3 Easy Ways to Prevent Your Data from Being Tracked

Online privacy has been a big issue for individuals in the past few months, but how does the issue of online privacy affect small businesses? After all, small businesses are consumers too, and they are made up of individual consumers who are regularly making purchases, performing searches, and maintaining their social media profiles. Under current rules and legislation, all that data is being kept, tracked, and quite possibly, sold.

The Federal Trade Commission this week issue a report that called for Internet companies to adopt tougher privacy policies to ensure the security of the data and to limit the collection of the data. One of these tougher policies is a “Do Not Track” system, which would give consumers more control over this data. It sounds great; however, since these measures are voluntary, consumers are relying on the Internet companies to do the right thing, or on Congress to pass legislation. Neither happens overnight, so it’s up to consumers and small business to take control themselves. Here are three ways consumers and small businesses can take control of their data and ensure their online privacy:

  1. Purchase a VPN – A VPN, or virtual private network, is a private network connection to the Internet. It encrypts any all data that goes through the connection and blocks cyberthreats and tracking code as well. With a VPN, you can use the Internet anonymously, while protecting any information that you give or receive (such as emails and passwords). A VPN is great for laptops and mobile devices, where employees and consumers could be transmitting company and personal data as well as using public Wi-Fi and other unsecure networks. If interested, two VPN providers to consider are VPN4all and OCShield.
  2. Delete and Prevent Cookies – Cookies are small computer files or tracking code that are installed by the web pages your visit. Most are useful. For example, ecommerce and media streaming sites use cookies to keep track of what you watched or purchased, showing you possible recommendations as well as the products or media that you previously looked at. Depending on your perspective, that sort of tracking could be useful or invasive, so there are ways to remove these cookies and to prevent them from being installed. All major Internet browsers allow you to delete and to prevent them, but methods vary by browser.
  3. Enable Private Browsing – Private browsing is another option that all major browsers have (although it goes by different names). It doesn’t block cookies, but will delete cookies each time you close the browser or turn off private browsing. Using private browsing is good if you are looking up sensitive information, or maybe doing your online banking. But, this isn’t meant to be a permanent solution or something to be used all the time. However, private browsing does help in keeping your most personal and confidential info in your control.

It’s tough in today’s tech environment to have control of your personal data. You can’t exactly delete it or ask for it from Google or Facebook, and in this day and age, you can’t exactly stay away from the Internet and technology all together. But, with these three methods, you can take steps to prevent your data from being tracked in the first place.

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About Allison Midori Reilly

Allison Midori Reilly is the CEO and Founder of Stirring Media, LLC. Stirring Media, LLC is a content marketing and news production firm that provides content marketing and business blogging services to the small business market. Prior to that, she was a freelance writer, who was published in over a dozen print and online publications, such as Smallbiztechnology.com, American City & County, Ideabing.com, Transport Topics and St. Louis Commerce Magazine. In her spare time, Reilly is an active member of Amnesty International as well as an avid poker player.