My “Ghostly” sentinel of the internet, Ghostery

March 19, 2011

I read an article recently about internet privacy. Just a few months ago I was extremely reluctant to “put myself out there” as it was. I made a decision a few weeks ago to reverse that. I have for many years encouraged others to “embrace change”. It generally was in the context of a discussion about a business, usually one that was going through significant change. The more time I spent thinking about it, the more I realized I was setting myself up to basically live on an island, looking through binoculars at what was happening on the shore of the land in the distance. Always the observer, never the participant.

I am quite wary about the amount of information that is available to companies about me. I would rather not even think about hackers. I take solace in the fact that I live such a relatively tame lifestyle, don’t have valuables that I think anyone else would be interested in, or have such stellar credit that anyone could use it for their own gain. I try to be careful, but not obsessed, over the security of things done while surfing the net.

Having said that, I realized as I went through my junk mail, and ignored yet another call from “unknown”, that I’m already “out there”. So I decided to take my own advice and embrace change. This blog is the result of my doing that. I spend my time learning more about the internet, how things work, and if there was some way for me to utilize it to my benefit. I’ll let you know what I find out.

What I didn’t really think much of though, was the fact that as I go from internet page to internet page, there are windows that companies are looking through to track what I do. Not necessarily me by name specifically, but the steps I take each day while surfing. This article woke me up to that. It named a number of sites that provide you with a of list companies that you can opt out of being tracked by them, and one in particular, “Ghostery” that I could download, and then see, in a pop up window, the companies that were tracking me as I surfed from page to page.

I downloaded it (it’s free, and you can take it off if you’d like), and the first time I saw the window pop up, it kind of freaked me out. It was as if someone had walked by my house, stopped and was watching what I was doing through a window. My immediate thought was to get rid of it, but I didn’t. After a while, I got comfortable with it. I think that knowing that I had a few choices, one being to take it off and try to forget that it was happening, stop my activity altogether online (so no one could know what “I was up to”), or, I could accept that it’s the newest form of ways that companies have to find ways to sell me stuff that I may want, leave it on, and know who it is that’s looking. I chose the last. I’m not getting off the internet, I can’t cloak myself in secrecy (I guess for the right price I could), and I want to have access to the world available via the web. But at least with my new “Ghost friend” showing up as I move around, giving me a heads up that someone’s watching, I feel like I have SOME control. Check them out by clicking on their name below:

Ghostery  

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