Are Websites Collecting Information About You?
What information is a website collecting about you?
The website owner can also see who your Internet service provider is and if you are using Internet Explorer, Firefox, or any other Internet browser. They can also see the operating system for your computer, Windows XP or Windows 7 for example. Plus, they can see the screen resolution of your monitor.
Website operators are able to see your IP address. The IP address is the online address for your computer. If you use a typical Internet connection like a cable company, your IP address rarely changes. Do not worry because an IP address does not give your home address or any other personal information. Without a search warrant, the only information anyone including websites can glean from your IP address, is the location of the server that you are using to access the Internet. That’s usually in your town or close by. For example, an IP address might tell the website operator that a particular visitor to their site came from Columbus, Ohio, but nothing more.
Also when you are on a website, they can tell if you download something including pictures. They can see if you are reading a page by scrolling through it or if you are sitting idle. If you go on a website today, and come back two weeks from now, the website operator will have a record of that.
Why do websites collect this information?
Companies collect this information because it helps them with the design of their website and much more. It's not an invasion of privacy, it is simply a marketing technique. Look at it this way, businesses that collect information about who visits their website is no different than a Wal-Mart employee standing out in front of the store with a clipboard keeping track of the number of women and men who go through the front door. What time of day it was, if they were by themselves or with their family, what their estimated age is, etc. The company may have recently sent out several millions of dollars worth of advertising flyers in the mail, and collecting the information will help them determine if it works. Obviously, they will be able to interpret if sales go up and what items are sold, but knowing the particular demographics of who their customers were can help them hone their advertising in the future.
The bottom line is that you would not get all worked up if you walked past a Wal-Mart employee with a clipboard as you entered the store. Therefore, you should not get excited because websites are looking to see what kind of browser you are using, and what is the resolution of your monitor, etc.
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