AOLers, say hello to Big Brother. Your privacy on the Web is over with. In stunning news this week after a backlash against AOL’s data leak of nearly a million user’s search records, AOL has acquired Tacoda, which uses technology to monitor client’s customers so you can see lots of “personalized” ads.
So how does Tacoda work? The way most adware and spyware programs do. They monitor every website you visit, whether it’s an AOL property or not. The information is collected and analyzed to see which sites you visit the most. Advertising is delivered based on the results. Say you visit a lot of websites about flowers; you’ll see lots of gardening ads. Every possible “interest” of yours is analyzed so you’ll see ads that lead you to buy from as many of AOL’s ad partners as possible.
Why should that bother you? Because now AOL can study everything you do online and store information about you that they’re not required by internal rules to delete within a month, as they must do now with search records. They can sell the information Tacoda collects to third parties. There could be a Tacoda data leak (that would be lots of fun). And what you do on the Web is nobody’s business, anyway.
In the near future “silent” tracking from ISPs, businesses, websites, and hackers may become so prevalent that most people will surf anonymously, disable cookies, block incoming IPs, use NoScript with Firefox, keep an updated hosts file, use browsers like Safari for the Private Browsing option and use email services that encrypt and/or destroy email after a short period of time just to ensure their privacy.
Using the Net “without protection” is not a good idea…it’s getting easier by the minute for nosy types to learn more about you than ever before.
A little scuttlebutt from here and there: No one understands how the Tacoda deal can work, since rumor has it AOL’s Advertising.com property and Tacoda will not work together…it’s also unclear if Adtech, an advertising management firm that AOL acquired recently, will work with Tacoda, either. Could be very interesting if this turns into a “too many cooks in the kitchen” melee for AOL. And how will Tacoda handle their role as AOL’s sole ad targeting property when AOL still has deals with Revenue Science, Tacoda’s fiercest competitor, lined up into the future?