The GDPR has lofty goals when it comes to protecting consumer privacy. But even if you’re opting out and blocking cookies, you’re still being tracked. According to a group of privacy advocates in Europe lead by Brave privacy browser, advertisers can even track victims of sexual abuse.
GDPR Not Stopping Behavioral Ads
Behavioral advertising has become a sort of trade-off between consumers and companies. With ad fraud costing companies more than $16 billion in 2017, non-human (or bot traffic) is at its highest point. Advertisers understandably want to ensure they get more bang for their buck (and real people to target).
To address this constant menace in the advertising industry, big players in ad-tech can assure advertisers they’re reaching real humans. They can instantly match them with interested consumers to offer appropriate, targeted content.
And it’s considerably less painful for the consumer as well. After all, if your browser knows you like Nespresso and reading about robotics, it makes sense that adverts are targeted to you around these subjects–assuming you’re not like 46 percent of U.S. millennials who use adblockers in the first place.
However, the creepy fact is that it doesn’t stop with coffee makers or the latest gadgets.
Documents filed today with regulators in the UK, Poland, and Ireland, claim that despite the GDPR, our personal data is still being wrongly exploited. Even the most sensitive information about your habits is bought, sold and profiled.
Behavioral advertising doesn’t stop at what you read or watch at a broad level. It can track down to a list of categories agreed upon by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. And there are some scary ones on the list.
Companies can sell your browsing history pertaining to categories as intimate as incest and abuse support, gay life, AIDS/HIV, incontinence, and infertility, among many others.
Brave Browser Leads Privacy Advocates
In another slingshot against Google, Brave privacy browser claims that this sensitive information on customers is used to create profiles, otherwise known as labels. The easiest way to this is through cookies or browser tracking technology.
According to the New Economics Foundation:
Whole companies are built around the principle of relentlessly collecting as much data about internet users as possible, and monetising it.
That should come as no surprise after shockwave after shockwave from companies like Facebook and Google in 2018. However, internet users that thought they were safe thanks to the GDPR may have to think again.
Companies “broadcast profiles” about UK internet users more than 160 times a day. And that info is tossed around the internet ad ecosystem blatantly ignoring consumer privacy rights.
In its defense, the IAB says that these categories were developed in collaboration with academics, and admeasurement companies. The category list was meant to be a bid to make advertising more relevant for consumers and more efficient for advertisers. However, consumer profiles (or labels) stick with you for a long time.
3 Privacy Focused Browsers That Can Help
Even if you use an incognito window or VPN you can still be tracked. So if you want to keep your footsteps covered up online and deter the ad-tech industry from forming a profile on you consider one of the following bitcoin-friendly browsers:
Brave is a privacy-focused browser that gives you the option of navigating online without worrying about being watched. It also blocks all ads and trackers. Brave claims to be cryptocurrency-friendly, in that you can make micropayment donations to publishers that you like in the form of “tipping.”
However, publishers are not given the choice as to whether they wish to receive donations, which caused some recent backlash for the privacy browser.
If you bothered to read Tom’s feedback, you’d understand that the token/blockchain is not the issue here. The issue is with the way in which we represent unverified creators. Tom’s input is excellent, and will yield substantive changes in Brave in the very near future.
— Sampson (@BraveSampson) December 22, 2018
The Epic browser also comes with no ads, no spying, and no privacy abuse along with built-in VPN. Your browsing history is immediately deleted and, as they claim, is kepst safe from your ISP, employer, or even the government. Epic even accepts bitcoin for payments.
For advanced privacy, you can even try using Tor browser – which also accepts bitcoin (and can be used to run a full node, particularly in jurisdictions that aren’t fans of Bitcoin).
Tor protects your browsing history through a distributed network of nodes run by volunteers globally.
If you’re not ready to ditch Chrome just yet and you’re happy with your adblocker, just keep in mind, turning a blind eye to these data vultures could end up costing you more than you think.
Tried using alternative browsers to boost your privacy? Share your experience below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock
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