5 On Your Side

Avoid becoming a victim of data mining

Posted November 9

Data mining is the term for the industry that makes money selling details about what we look for and buy online.

Many people consider the unauthorized tracking very intrusive.

"It's called digital tracking. It happens all the time. And we just think that companies should be able, in simple language, to tell you what information is being collected and how it's being used," said Jerry Beilinson, Chief Electronics Editor of Consumer Reports.

Many find it intrusive when a search for something, such as a medical condition online, results in a related advertisement.

First, install an ad blocker, such as Privacy Badger, according to Consumer Reports. It blocks ads that come with tracking software.

Also, check phone settings to see which apps track location. Turn off any that are unnecessary.

When visiting an unfamiliar website that demands your email, go to a site like 10minutemail.com to find a functioning email that self- destructs after being used.

Always be cautious of Google.

"As you use Google it is just collecting a tremendous amount of information about you, and it does that no matter where you go online if you use Google search, Google maps, go to YouTube, using Gmail,” Beilinson said.

To see how much Google tracks, look under ‘My account’ and then ‘My activity.’

Consumer Reports recommends an alternative search engine such as DuckDuckGo that don't track their users.

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