Online Stalking

Everyone has been a stalker in their life, one time or other.

 You'd rather admit it.

Stalking does not mean only love interests following but it could be anything like, following your competitor, your rival at work place etc. Repeatedly visiting someone's Facebook or Twitter profile to see what that person has been up to is also stalking.

One predominant form of stalking which is less obvious is the online stalking by various websites and apps, you visit daily.

There are all kind of cookies, widgets, advertising trackers, analytical trackers and beacons used by the sites to track you and haunt you, wherever you go online. And I am not including in this the social plugins which are embedded nowadays on almost every web-page.

And these kind of activities have some fancy names like - "Retargetting" etc

A couple of them like Google Analytics is something which you can come to expect, but things are getting much farther than that.

According to Ghostery, in this world there are following trackers -:

a) 954 advertising trackers

b) 304 analytics related tracker

c) 379 beacons

d) 18 privacy trackers

e) 272 types of widgets

and then there are about 700 different types of cookies.

Beyond this, most of the sites leave their own cookies, which apart from maintaining session, follow you everywhere (Remember something, "Our network follows, everywhere".)

Just imagine, if this starts happening in your offline life also(I am not using "Real" here, because now online life too almost transcends to real life, for many of us), your neighbour following you everywhere, your co-worker or worse, your boss starts following you everywhere.

Would you be able to breathe?

Now just calculate the number of hours you spend online on your mobile or desktop. Most of your mobile app know more about you than your spouse or gf/bf. They are worst.

It is one of the reason, why I do not use an internet enabled phone.

European Union has a cookie law in which it is made mandatory for the web app administrator to notify the user that cookie is being used and by using the site, you gave your nod to be tracked and hounded everywhere. (It is just a simple notification on the site, which does not at all mentions the type of cookies used by the site)

Have you ever in your life read a "User Agreement" or "Terms of Service" apart from your employment contract? So, all this is worthless.

In one simple way, you are saying "Take it, or leave it". Can anything be more insulting for a user?

But may be that's what you can expect from Europeans as they have been aggressors for all their life. Something do not changes with time.

So what can be done with these kinds of people who say, "Take it or leave it"?

What can be done about people who control us online and hound us everywhere?

What can be done about people who still behave like pre-independence control freaks?

Fortunately, some people do work for the greater good too and there has been some options available which can free you from this online stalking.

a) Use an alternate operating system, where all the internet traffic is forced through a relay network (If your m/c is owned by your employer, it is not possible then)

b) Use a Tor browser with plugins (Again if your m/c is owned by employer, it might not be possible)

c) Use plugins in your browser (Firefox) like Ghostery, Disconnect and Adblockplus. they are super easy to install and do their work brilliantly.

This is not a dynastic system, just because you have a good service, you have all the rights to control the people, who in the very first place, made your service "great".

We are all equals is not it? 

a) If you opt to disable all trackers and cookies, you might face some in-convenience in using some services, if they are super important for you, you can white-list them or if you have time on your hand, you can just enable individual plugins, which is making the service un-employable.

b) The alternate operating systems available for using web anonymously and securely are one or other variants of linux distributions and they might not be as user friendly for you, if you are habituated to Win.

c) Entire world is against the snooping by NSA but surprisingly no one talks about snopping from some of the biggest, as well as the smallest internet companies of the world about online stalking from them. Why this double standards? Notably from the arm chair activists of Silicon Valley.

d) Update - 3rd of May 2014 Electronic Frontier Foundation has launched a new browser plugin called "Privacy Badger", you should install it and help EFF test this tool.


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