The price of skeletons in the closet

Since the end of the 70s, dozens of films have told us how to easily change the fate of a person using the Internet - one line rewritten in your dossier - and in an instant you become a criminal marginal from a law-abiding taxpayer. And today our files stored in the special services are waiting in the wings. But don’t worry if you don’t sell weapons or plan a coup — your dossier will never be used. Although, this is a question! Or maybe your dossier does not wait, but is already used in a different way?

Of course, the CIA, the FBI and other special services monitor citizens, but they are not the only ones who make up our file today. Following the proliferation of computers and access to users' private information, a huge number of corporations have appeared that want to know everything about us! Not for any particular purpose, but simply to deeply understand and satisfy the consumer.

I wonder how this happens? Then let's see how the dossiers are compiled, what is in them, and how you can independently restrict access to most of the information.

Today, “Networks” are used to form our comprehensive dossiers: mobile communications, bank accounts and the most widespread network - the Internet. Networks can tell a lot about us!

Dug up everything, found out his previous story. God knows where all this was sniffed from and knew. Only there was evidence even in such cases, about which, Chichikov thought, except for him and the four walls, no one knew.
N.V. Gogol. "Dead Souls"

Using any computer to access the Internet, we all reserve the “information trace” in several ways:
1. The IP address or just the number assigned to the Internet connection channel. Websites use it so that the information we request comes to us, it is logical that this allows us to localize the computer. Some ISPs assign computers IP addresses that dynamically change each time they connect to the Internet. Based on the dynamic IP address, only the approximate location of the user can be set. There is similar information about IP addresses and the exact location of users, but they are stored by the provider, which actually controls your Internet access.

“Moreover, they whispered that there are such requests on Google that the United States responds with an immediate ballistic strike to anywhere in the world. This is precisely what explains the frequent collapse of the Moscow five-story buildings ”
V. Pelevin. “Pineapple. Water for a beautiful lady ”

2. Cookies - only a few people hear about it for the first time. In fact, this is a file created by a web browser and represents a certain sequence of numbers, letters and other characters. With the help of cookies, online stores remember the contents of your shopping carts, advertisers, analyzing your previously performed actions, decide what kind of advertising might interest you, etc.
Of course, the creation and storage of these files is consistent with the user. Browsers allow you to erase or not create cookies at all, but they are necessary for the proper operation of many sites. If you delete or block the ability to create cookies, some sections of such sites will stop working and it will be impossible to use these sections.

3. Visit logs.
Most websites use visit logs and store in them: search queries, time and date of visits, your computer’s IP address and cookies stored on it, type of browser and operating system. The formation of the magazine takes place in a split second. Today, some companies are introducing a time limit for storing data in journals. It looks like this - after 9 months, data is removed from the IP addresses, allowing you to uniquely identify computers. After 18 months, the cookie ID is replaced with a new sequence of characters and it becomes even more difficult to attach the file to you. But 9 months is a decent time and older data may just be uninteresting, do not you think?

4. A personal account is another reliable way to receive your personal data. Whether it is a page on a social network or a resume on a job site, here we ourselves disclose ourselves in detail to “all the winds”. The personal account of the online store saves the delivery address, of course, so that you do not have to indicate it again and again, saves the history of your purchases, so that you can find out where, when and what you buy.

How it works.
All this body of information, daily reported by most of us, is “personal data”. Data is being collected for the sole global purpose of making life easier for those who provide it and for those who use it.

Your personal data and the data of other users work as a legislative assembly. Most vote in favor, and the world around is changing. Analysis of the general statistics of the actions of millions of users allows us to constantly make relevant proposals, create new products, ensure the security of states and even control the spread of diseases. How? Brilliantly simple!

Imagine that you returned yesterday from the overseas resort X. In the morning you had a fever, and you did not go to work. Referring to acclimatization, you wrote to your friends and colleagues by e-mail that you have a fever and you stay at home. Other travelers who returned from the same resort X also had a fever, and when they entered relevant searches into the search engines, they began to search on the Internet for means to reduce it. If similar letters and requests began to come from vacationers at resort X with increased frequency, then analyzing the trail created by "ailing" users, you can see the general picture: the outbreak of the virus, symptoms and the incubation period of the virus.

This applies to everything that happens in the world. You can predict sales volumes, loan rates and average hospital temperatures. This is not a joke, you can see the incidence rate in the world right now on the Google Flu Trends website , which reports statistics on virus activity based on user searches.

This is not the only Google open tool showing the results of our activity on the Internet - Google Correlate service shows the patterns of the influence of world events on US searches. Here is an example of a graphic to the query: “ go to Russia “. Today, most of all, residents of the state of Georgia want to go to Russia, tomorrow this schedule may change.

In the next section, you will learn how companies make money on your data on the Internet.

How much do you earn on your data?
To begin, let's see that all the "free" web services and programs we use are actually not free at all.

In recent years, the world of software has changed, we are in no hurry to pay for high-quality programs, but prefer to receive software “for free”. Why are software developers interested in giving us their products, because making them really expensive?
There is only one obvious answer: to get user data.

“I give you to give me” (lat. Do ut des).
The formula of Roman law establishing one of the relations between two persons.

The creators of "free" browsers, social networks, search engines make money on each user, not only by advertising, but also by secretly collecting information. They give us software to take our information in return - it also has a price.

At the same time, program developers deliberately design “complexity barriers” on the way to installing more secure configurations of their products, and users get lost in intricate settings. For example, interfaces for managing cookies, which are critical for blocking website tracking by users, are located in hard-to-reach places in the browser, and manufacturers often do not improve their usability in this part. Most of the default settings set by companies specifically are not private and are not safe, because users rarely change the settings inserted by default. Want to know how quickly you can change your key privacy settings? Below is an easy way for users of the Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers.

Some of the privacy settings in the sites we often use are well hidden, therefore, to quickly find them, we will use the “Privacyfix” resource or the “Privacy Fix” in Russian. The resource groups all the settings into sections and decrypts the meaning of each setting in detail, so we will use it to familiarize ourselves. The financial result of adjustments can be seen immediately and it is also convenient. As soon as you set the settings that block access to your private data, the approximate earnings on your accounts will decrease (according to Trefis ). The site’s interface is divided into 4 sections: Facebook, Google, All the websites you visit, All the websites that track you.


The “Facebook” section evaluates the availability of your activity on the pages of the site and the estimated annual $ earnings of Facebook on your account. Usually it ranges from a few cents to tens of $ per year. The amount of earnings is affected by the region of your stay and activity in the social network. The “Google” section is organized similarly to the previous one, only search queries are evaluated here. According to analysts, Google earns an average of up to $ 14.70 for every 1000 searches.
The “Websites” provides a detailed list of Internet resources sharing your data, and resources that have various privacy issues. In “Tracking” you can see sites that are monitoring you “currently” for a commercial purpose. Some of these sites may also use your email addresses to collect additional data about you.

Partition privacy settings are divided by points. The background color, check marks, and an exclamation mark on the left indicate a “state of affairs”. By clicking on the “Fix” buttons corresponding to the items being changed, you quickly go to the settings sections of your account to adjust them.


Additionally, Privacyfix offers to install the browser plugin of the same name, which will allow you to edit the settings on linkedln, pinterest, twitter, stumbleupon and on other sites on the Internet. During installation, the plugin automatically corrects part of the system settings and shows in which places the others are hidden - they will have to be fixed on their own. If you do not delete the plugin after changing the privacy settings, it will signal tracking attempts on other sites and will allow you to erase the following Cookies with the click of a button. But let's not forget that Privacyfix is ​​also a free product!

Everyone decides whether to limit the earnings of corporations on your data. When studying us, most companies aim to improve their products and services. As consumers, we will not lose, having received all the best. In turn, companies wishing to control sales volumes are forced to systematically study consumer behavior and cannot refuse this marketing tool. Be sure that the more private information we collect in our dossier, the more there will be people who want to receive it, and who knows what is known about us today. Therefore, do not forget that your data and even your “skeletons in the closet" have a cost.

“If you do not value your rights, remember that others will not appreciate them”
(lat. Non sentis si ius suum non aestimant eos memores alios)
Latin dictum

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