How many websites are tracking you? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tech

How many websites are tracking you?

  • Related LinksMore>>

  • Your Tweets are being tracked

    It's easy to track your past Tweets

    Online tools allow curious web surfers the ability to see what you tweeted as far back as three years ago with just a couple of clicks. Cyber Expert Theresa Payton shares some insight for those who are active "Tweeters."More >>
    Online tools allow curious web surfers the ability to see what you tweeted as far back as three years ago with just a couple of clicks. Cyber Expert Theresa Payton shares some insight for those who are active "Tweeters."More >>
  • Tracking your child online

    Tracking your child online

    There are several tools and tricks out there that can help make sure you know exactly what your child is watching, reading, or hiding from you on the internet.
    More >>
    There are several tools and tricks out there that can help make sure you know exactly what your child is watching, reading, or hiding from you on the internet.
    More >>
  • TechTips

    "Web washers" cover your online tracks

    "Web washers" cover your online tracks

    Anyone can search your web history in your web browser. It's even easier in the search box, because most have an auto-complete feature that fills in the history for you, leading to what can be uncomfortable situations.
    More >>
    Anyone can search your web history in your web browser. It's even easier in the search box, because most have an auto-complete feature that fills in the history for you, leading to what can be uncomfortable situations.
    More >>
  • Tech

    Washing away your cyber tracks

    Washing away your cyber tracks

    Anyone with access to your computer can also see your internet search history, which makes snooping eyes at home or at work a real digital dilemma. Check out some ways you can help protect your privacy.
    More >>
    Anyone with access to your computer can also see your internet search history, which makes snooping eyes at home or at work a real digital dilemma. Check out some ways you can help protect your privacy.
    More >>
  • "Creepy" tracks your daily routine

    "Creepy" tracks your daily routine

    New software can give people you wouldn't necessarily call friends a detailed map of your daily routine. The program can follow your every move, from home to work, and your favorite stores and restaurants.More >>
    New software can give people you wouldn't necessarily call friends a detailed map of your daily routine.
    More >>
  • How to hide from tracking cookies

    Protecting your family from tracking cookies

    Little programs left on your computer by some websites you visit may be telling marketing firms how to advertise to your family...especially your kids.More >>

For most of us, going a day without the internet can be like going without breathing: Impossible.

"I know people use it for marketing and things like that," said Brittney Rocha, a University of Arizona student who expects websites that she visits to track her every move. 

But the sites that she doesn't know are watching catch her by surprise.

"I didn't know it was going to be to that extent.  Like, I was just going to go on some little website to check out a recipe and then 30 websites are now following me," she said.

She didn't realize so many other sites watch her until she was asked to use a program called Collusion for this story.  She turned it on, surfed the web for about 10 minutes, and visited places like Facebook, her bank, Pinterest and Yahoo! news. Then she saw the web followers she gained with each click to a new site.

A web of dots were connected in a web on the screen in the Collusion program.  Blue ones were where she visited.  Red ones were known sites that watched her.  But the gray sites were unknown. 

These sites gain insight into who we are just by tracking our behavior. Clicking on links, like a recipe on Pinterest, hailed a swarm of sites to Brittney.

"You're not really giving your permission for them to track you.  I mean, I guess you are because you're going on the internet and it's very public.  But they're not asking you, 'oh can this website track everything that you're doing?' They're not really asking permission for it," she said.

This can be especially disconcerting to parents of younger children.

"I'm right there next to her, I watch what she's on, if she tries to stray it'll ask for permission," said Stephanie Solis about her four-year-old daughter, Celest.

Collusion showed Solis how Celest still had her online behavior recorded by other sites as she returned to regular trusted ones where she played games or watched cartoons.

"They're very educational games, there's always a motive behind it, a positive motive," Solis said.

But she didn't know the motives of all these sites, most of them gray or unknown, tracking her daughter after only about 10 minutes online.

"I think it's a little weird," Solis said.  And she knew that her daughter would use the internet the rest of her life.

"You can't control everything, but it is scary as a parent," Solis said.

The best she can do is watch her daughter go to the safe places.  For now, Solis doesn't have a problem with that. 

"No because it's not like she's online chatting and meeting random people.  When she gets to that age, then it will be alarming but right now, she can play games," she said.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.