Your Life And Privacy
Consumers can look for third party seals of approval from organizations like TRUSTe or BBBOnline, which allow a website to display their seals if the site agrees to abide by the organizations’ self-regulatory principles (and pays a fee). Clicking on the seal should take you to a site that explains what the seal stands for. (If you can’t click, the seal could be a fraud, copied onto the site to fake consumers.) Don’t rely on a seal for privacy protection without an understanding of its meaning.
Passive consumer information collection is becoming increasingly sophisticated as technology progresses. Through behavioral tracking, websites can collect information on online browsing habits, and use it to serve ads or sell to advertising networks. In January, Google announced plans to change its privacy policies effective March 1 to track users across nearly all of its services. Now user data collected by one Google service can be shared with its other platforms, including Gmail, Google Search, and YouTube, if the user is signed in to these services. Privacy advocates in the US and Europe are challenging this change. Consumer class action lawsuits are in the works.
Often website users are not aware of a site’s information practices. Insist on being informed, in terms that you understand. Consider leaving the site if you cannot find answers to your concerns, or if you don’t like or can’t understand the answers. Your privacy may not be as private as you think.