You are being Tracked and Targeted online!

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An article, The Web's New Gold Mine: Your Secrets, in The Wall Street Journal last week reveals a growing industry collecting and selling your online activity and interests to advertisers.

Consumer tracking is the foundation of an online advertising economy that racked up $23 billion in ad spending last year. Tracking activity is exploding. Researchers at AT&T Labs and Worcester Polytechnic Institute last fall found tracking technology on 80% of 1,000 popular sites, up from 40% of those sites in 2005.

These profiles of individuals, constantly refreshed, are bought and sold on stock-market-like exchanges that have sprung up in the past 18 months.

This is without your knowledge or permission and you are getting no benefit from this $23 billion business even though YOU ARE THE PRODUCT!

Targeted ads command a premium. Last year, the average cost of a targeted ad was $4.12 per thousand viewers, compared with $1.98 per thousand viewers for an untargeted ad, according to an ad-industry-sponsored study in March.

At the moment this data is used to place ads on web sites which reflect your interests and concerns as assumed from the websites and pages you visit. This could be your favorite books and films to your health concerns and financial information. They claim that they do not collect any personal identifying information (name, address etc.) but, for how long?

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