Online Privacy: Fighting for Your Eyeballs

You may have noticed that the Internet is expanding. Major newspapers are publishing all their content online, because the readers expect and demand it. 23 of the 25 largest newspapers are seeing declines in readership. And if people aren’t buying newspapers, advertisers won’t place ads in them.

Newspapers hire journalists to investigate the issues that affect us on a daily basis. It’s these well-paid, experienced journalists who keep us informed, disseminating news that helps us make decisions in our own lives. We need these journalists to expose lies and uncover truth. Without quality journalism, the media’s influence will have an adverse impact on us all.

But if newspapers aren’t making money, journalists won’t have jobs. As newspapers shift their business models from local, paper-based distribution to online, potentially international distribution, their advertising strategy must change.

There are hundreds of new companies that understand this dilemma perfectly and have created technologies to capture your attention by knowing exactly who you are and what you want. This is where targeted Internet advertising comes in, and it has privacy advocates freaking out.

Most major websites now install cookies on your computer, which track what you do online. Over time, these cookies develop a profile, which becomes your digital fingerprint, to a certain extent. You may have noticed after searching for a specific product, advertisements for that particular product or brand appearing on various other websites you visit.

Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and most major newspapers, retailers, and advertisers are in on the game. These large companies are making decisions that affect your privacy. As a consumer, you pay close attention to these issues and consider how they might impact you personally.

The Wall Street Journal delves into these questions here, here, and here.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto, discusses oversharing on the Internet on Fox News. (Disclosures)