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Stop those ad trackers on your smartphones!

Stop those ad trackers on your smartphones!

The battle to maintain some semblance of privacy in our online lives is a classic one-step-forward, two-steps-back situation. Just when you start to feel you have a grasp of things, we get hit with new revelations about government spying.

The latest? How U.S. and British intelligent agencies are working to take advantage of the extraordinary information that online social-media sites are collecting on us.

So that's the latest two steps back. The latest one step forward deserves more notice.

Both Apple and Android have recently introduced new ways for advertisers to deliver targeted ads to us. This sounds like bad news, but the good part is that, given widespread consumer outrage on the issues, both companies have shown some spine and designed the new protocols both to keep the data anonymized and to make it easier for us to opt out from tracking.

Let's be honest. In the realities of the world we live in, we have to accept not just advertising but creative advertising. Most of the Internet is free; the price we pay for it is ads of one sort or another. But changing technology – and the advantage companies have over us when it comes to understanding the implications of technology – has created a situation that is both excessive and harmful.

And, further, we should note that the ad-tracking data the companies collect should be anonymous. They just know a certain user associated with a certain random identifier buys cat food regularly, likes action movies, and visits a Baskin-Robbins a little too frequently – not that it's you, John W. Smith, doing it al;.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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