Trafficking in Consumer Data – by “Andres F – YLT2012”

When you navigate to a website, you’re usually going there to get information. Maybe the news, whether it’s political, sports, cultural, or whatever else it might be. However, something that we don’t often consider is the price at which that supposedly free information comes.

As the title of the author suggests, “if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.” Simply put, you may think you’re accessing an Internet site for free. However, in reality, those websites might actually be selling access to you, the consumer, the average reader. What exactly are you selling though?

When you’re accessing these websites, you’re selling your search history, your personal information, your tendencies, your preferences, your approach to the internet as a whole. As a result, the companies who place advertisements on the ESPN’s, New York Times’, Facebook’s of the world are paying millions of dollars to gain access to our subconscious, to place their ads strategically to make the most of our attention.


Now, this might be a bit outrageous, but should the companies who aggregate our data, and monitor our Internet traffic actually pay us to monitor our activity? It might seem absurd, but sites such as Google sell advertisements to other companies, making millions of dollars of our shopping tendencies, observing and monitoring the sites we visit.

If they’re profiting from our browsing the Internet, why shouldn’t we? I’ve got some concerns about what I perceive as certain websites trafficking in personal information, which is a very real and pressing problem. It’s one thing to sell access to data traffic, and the websites consumers are accessing. It’s quite another to trade in, and gain from the personal information of your consumers. There might be some fine print in Google’s numerous user agreements that make it “technically legal” for them to disseminate one’s personal data. But how can they actually rationalize it…

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