The New York Times: “Your email address has become a digital bread crumb for companies to link your activity across sites. Here’s how you can limit this. When you browse the web, an increasing number of sites and apps are asking for a piece of basic information that you probably hand over without hesitation: your email address. It may seem harmless, but when you enter your email, you’re sharing a lot more than just that. I’m hoping this column, which includes some workarounds, persuades you to think twice before handing over your email address. First, it helps to know why companies want email addresses. To advertisers, web publishers and app makers, your email is important not just for contacting you. It acts as a digital bread crumb for companies to link your activity across sites and apps to serve you relevant ads. If this all sounds familiar, that’s because it is. For decades, the digital advertising industry relied on invisible trackers planted inside websites and apps to follow our activities and then serve us targeted ads. There have been sweeping changes to this system in the past few years, including Apple’s release of a software feature in 2021 allowing iPhone users to block apps from tracking them and Google’s decision to prevent websites from using cookies, which follow people’s activities across sites, in its Chrome browser by 2024. Advertisers, web publishers and app makers now try to track people through other means — and one simple method is by asking for an email address. Imagine if an employee of a brick-and-mortar store asked for your name before you entered. An email address can be even more revealing, though, because it can be linked to other data, including where you went to school, the make and model of the car you drive, and your ethnicity. [Note – beSpacfic uses opt-in email requests to deliver daily updates inclusive of 10 new daily links and abstracts. Since 2002 – no information is sold, repurposed or shared. My site is a solo research effort, and has been free since its founding. Readers support is much appreciated. Please help support my research using the Donate feature – much appreciated!]
For many years, the digital ad industry has compiled a profile on you based on the sites you visit on the web. Information about you used to be collected in covert ways, including the aforementioned cookies and invisible trackers planted inside apps. Now that more companies are blocking the use of those methods, new ad targeting techniques have emerged…”
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