Since we all use computers all the time, significant privacy concerns exist, but seniors have even more concerns, because they welcome and enthusiastically use the added communication opportunities that the Internet provides. Moreover, few of our elders are particularly suspicious when they work and play online (though many are more so off-line in everyday life) and the potential for fraud exists.
Unfortunately, as senior adults and adult children continuously check out, explore, and sign up for new web sites on their computers, they leave digital footprints all over the place. Naturally, when people leave bits of virtual information lying around, other people figure out ways to collect it. Read A Web Pioneer Profiles People by Name, a Wall Street Journal article that describes invasive tracking and its extremes.
With the potential to collect and sometimes resell enormous amounts of information about individuals and families, websites use tiny programs called cookies — little programs placed on personal computers to collect information. Sometimes these cookies simply help with signing into a site, remembering a password, or making a purchases. But more often they collect all sorts of information about a person’s online activities and send this info back to companies that repackage and resell your personal data.
The World Privacy Forum has posted an article, Consumer Tips: How to Opt Out of Cookies that Track You, that explains how to stop information-collecting on your personal computer.
More on privacy in my next post.