Being Mindful

Dear Nonexistent Audience,

The New York Times article, “Why You Should Take a Close Look at What Tracks You,” written by Mr. Thorin Klosowski, gently encourages readers to be mindful of the amount of information companies track and then recommends several browsers and software that will aid you in monitoring trackers.

Personally, I don’t typically worry about what information companies fancy gathering on me, however, knowing exactly what they are gathering allows me to continue to have that peace of mind to not worry because I know exactly what is going on and when.

There are many browser extensions and software that block invisible trackers such as Privacy Badger, Pi-hole, and Adguard. Many of these extensions are free and offer an infinite amount of protection. Other ways we can protect ourselves and our information are by using different web browsers such as Brave, which actually claims to be 3x faster than Chrome and guarantees protection from Google and Big Tech.

Aside from being aware and mindful of what companies track, there is another reason to take this issue seriously. Two words: privacy policies.

The article we’re looking at focuses on California’s Consumer Privacy Act so we are going to do the same. New rules within the act require most large companies that operate in California to disclose how they collect and use data and give that information in a way the average citizen can understand. The issue with this is just as Mr. Klosowski says: they don’t. Big companies make their privacy policies difficult to understand, they make it hard to opt out of data being sold and they make it so that in order to remove all collected data you must delete any and all accounts which they know people don’t want to do. Who wants to lose all their history, pictures, and connections with family members on social media?

Some companies make it unclear on how to delete collected data (Apple) and others do as I said before, where you have to delete an entire account and its history to delete collected data (Facebook). Additionally, all of this does not include the information that has already been sold.

Other companies are very straightforward with what they do such as Hulu, Spotify, and Nintendo, which is admirable.

All-in-all big companies know the loopholes of privacy policies and they will not hesitate to exploit these advantages to gather information, so it is up to us as consumers to take advantage of the extensions and browsers available to us to take back as much control as we can.

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