I would hope that most people understand that nothing on the Internet is really free. While there are some services out there that are supported by donors, so that end-users don’t have to pay to use, most of them bring in money through either advertising or selling your data.

Chances are that you’ve read a privacy policy once or twice and it seemed pretty tame. Maybe thought “pfft, suckers, what are they gonna do with that?”

But there’s a downside to this sort of mass all-you-can-eat-for-a-little-chunk-of-your-privacy buffet…

Value: Or lack of any association to.

I realize this is almost a pointless question, because very few of us would, but how much would you be willing to pay monthly for YouTube access? Facebook? Bing?

But you don’t, and yet these services (and countless others) manage to self-fund themselves quite comfortably.

So here’s a question: How much are we actually paying them?

I’ve heard horror stories of ads that track your mouse-movement on web pages, that use Flash to store incredibly hard to remove cookies so that you can be tracked even in anonymous/privacy mode. All those little bits of irrelevant data we’re leaking out of a forum here, a t-shirt store there, etc, etc… What they’re going to do with them is paste them all together to know every minute detail they possibly can about you.

Sure, it’s only for marketing purposes… Except if the privacy policies you agreed to did limit the data to being sold to marketing companies, it didn’t impose any restrictions on what those companies did with it.

Which means it can be sold on to recruiting firms, background check agencies, the government or even scammers (can make a LOT more money with well-calibrated, more cleverly targeted scams than by buck-shotting them out on the Internet these days).

When you get turned down a job or an apartment, or your insurance gets hiked, your pension axed … it’s suddenly going to feel like you were paying by the minute but nobody bothered to tell you when the charging started or what the minutely rate was…

Next time you send a gmail, or post on a friend’s facebook wall, or just watch a monkey dancing on youtube …

Ask how much your keypresses/clicks are paying them…


One Comment

I use FireFox’s “Better Privacy” plugin. You’ll find all your flash cookies (the sneaky one’s) in your Macromedia subdirectory – and that program deletes them all in one keypress. If you have never used this plugin – your computer is full of extremely effective tracking cookies – even CCleaner doesn’t get them. And yes, privacy mode = fail since these cookies all jump in around that block (you think MicroSoft is going to seal off all the holes that generate revenue share with Flash?). BetterPrivacy. Use it after every website. Unless you are “behind 7 proxies”.

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