Browser Beware

Cookie monster may be following you

Try this experiment right now: put down this paper, go over to your computer, and log on to Now click the button marked "Opt Out Click Here." Did the next screen show you an ID number? Congratulations: DoubleClick has been tracking you—and I bet you didn't even feel it when they clamped the tag on your ear.

It's only natural that companies should do this. Like a gas, corporations expand to fill the space available. They exist to make money, and they make more money by doing this than by not doing it. And unfortunately, we in the U.S. long ago sacrificed our constitutional rights to privacy in favor of the almighty god capitalism. But it's only now, in the Information Age, that people are realizing just how invasive marketing can be.

But don't despair: there are a number of things we can try before we give up and allow ConHugeCorp. to implant those subcutaneous microchips:

1. Opt out. Visit the address I gave you above, and tell DoubleClick to eat your dust.

2. Support privacy advocates who are pushing for an opt-in model, in which companies have to get your explicit permission before they can gather any data on you, as opposed to the current opt-out model, where the onus is on the consumer to protect his or her privacy. Assuming he or she even knows the data collection is occurring.

3. Nag Congress. That august body is considering a number of privacy measures, including one by Senator Robert Torricelli (D-New Jersey) that would regulate the use of cookies. Write your representatives (snail mail still scores the most points, so get out those stamps), and let them know you're sick of being spied on in the name of commerce.

Tell Wyn all your personal secrets at
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