A great podcast episode with Quinn Norton, privacy and security advocate (who was previously attached to the late Aaron Swartz), discussing the huge industry behind ad-tracking. A worthwhile point she mentioned was that we have always been the product, ever since TV and radio. The difference now is that the ads watch you back, they track your behaviour and build often very accurate profiles. It’s a trade-off, it’s up to individuals to be informed and decide where along that line they want to exist.
“…a dozen cookies and scripts are tracking you. Where you came from, who you are, where you’re thinking of going next (and how we can get you to stick around). Many of these algorithms are helping us watch our traffic, while others give marketers information about our readers’ (and listeners’) habits. It’s not just our site, of course, it’s most of the sites you visit online. Cookies and scripts have been a staple of web browsing since the first browser, but lately the ability to merge databases means that online surveillance can learn more and more about you and your habits.”