We are unprotected on the Internet?



A few months ago, we all heard about the legal battle that Mark Zuckerberg faced with European Union when Facebook was questioned for its data protection policy and the theft of information from millions of user in that social network. From that moment on, the importance of data protection by state agencies in the main powers of the world became more public.

Since May of this year, the European Union (EU) has requested mandatory compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for all companies operating in the EU, regardless of where their headquarters are located, which gives to the users more control of their information, but at the same time, it modifies the way in which the companies collect, store and use that information.

In the case of the United States, there is no universal and standard law that includes all the industries. Each state has its own data privacy law for each sector. The Florida Information Protection Act (FIPA) of 2014 includes any personal login information that allows access to a person’s online account on social media sites or applications.

FIPA requires the companies to notify the Florida Department of Legal Affairs any act related to the security of confidential personal information or a breach of data security.

But, how do the companies capture our data?

Is has happened to you that when you access to a web page an announcement appears with a message that says

“We use own cookies to improve our services and. If you continue to browse this page, we believe that acceptance for use under the terms…”

. We all click on accept, but we really do not know what it means, how those things work and what it does with that information that collects.

A cookie is a file that is downloaded to your browser when you open a web page and click “accept” or “ok” to collect some details about your connection, location, language, email, passwords, phone number or address, interests, among other data that you have entered that site.

Many pages require us to accept these cookies to continue browsing, but it is your decision to give them access to your information. All this process occurs without you being able to see it; it is digital totally. Many sites have their own cookies that were created specifically for that space, such as the Florida Department of State page; and third-party cookies, from other pages or advertising companies that may be sharing your information with similar pages.

But most of the pages use both types of cookies, such as, for example Miami New Times has cookies from the Voice Media Group, which is the name of the company that manages the diary, but in addition they deliver certain third-party cookies for Google Analytics, Google’s AdSense and DoubleClick services because they help them to understand how visitors engage with their website. Also, they have behavioral remarketing services from AppNexus, Quancast, Rubicon and APS.

Cookies

There are many other pages that share your information with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, such as Banco Sabadell Miami, Air Margarita Ville Miami, El Nuevo Herald, the management consulting Llorente & Cuenca, Dow Jones Business & Financial, just for mention some. For that reason is that social media platforms know so much about you.

According to a report from European Union last year, that analyzed almost 500 pages, 70 percent of cookies were from other pages and track our behavior on the Internet to offer us personalized advertising.

Are the companies reinventing or revealing themselves?

Browsers, such as Google, Apple or Mozilla, have included in their configuration menus an option called “Do Not Track” (DNT), which in theory should send a request on your name to each page you visit to indicate that do not use or take your information.

We say “in theory” because, according to recent reports, only a few pages respect this request, such as Pinterest or Medium, but most ignore it. Apple claims that it does not track its users, but third-party cookies still can take basic user information, such as IP address, even when the DNT function has been activated.

Gizmodo.com reveals that Twitter, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Pornhub, and xHamster do not respect the “Do Not Track” function and continue to share some of your information with third-party companies.

In addition, Google Chrome activated some years ago an unknown mode to browse the Internet that does not save information about the pages that we visit, which means that it will not download files in your computer or cookies but still share some details, such as your provider Internet or your location. It is not 100% anonymous either.

Control cookies

However, there are some actions you can take to remove or block cookies and the information they take. In fact, it is advisable that you erase the record of your browser every few days to clean that data, on your pc, mobile phone, table, and other devices.

Google gives us some steps to erase the cookies and also the cache. Open your browser, click on Settings, then go to Privacy and Security and click on Content Settings. Click on Cookies and delete everything.

Also, you have the option to block third-party cookies and allow the own cookies on a web page, or definitely block them all, but remember that maybe some pages will work badly. Follow the steps above and activate the Block third-party cookies option.

All this makes us think that when it comes to the Internet we are never 100% protected and save. The companies will always have information about us. Hence the importance of empowering the user to take control of its information and security agencies must continue to guarantee compliance with the protection of our data.

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