You are being tracked. A vast network of businesses is actively collecting data about you – and not just you, in the general sense, but specifically you. Your age, gender, income range, location, medical issues, and social connections, everything that describes you is fair game for data brokers.
Companies like Acxiom and BlueKai have created an economy of online, automated surveillance, profiting from the collection and resale of user data to and from marketers, advertisers, and other brokers. The scale and reach of this industry can be disheartening, and avoiding its collective gaze increasingly difficult.
Still, there are ways of decreasing the volume of your data flowing to brokers and even regaining some of your privacy. Ranked from the least to the most involved, here are the services, strategies, and products that can throw the data trackers off your trail.
Use a really secure browser.
WhiteHat Security's Aviator browser has its drawbacks, from the spare interface to very occasional fits of bugginess. That's the (small) price you potentially pay, however, for a free and fully security-minded browser, that comes with features like Do Not Track already turned on, uses DuckDuckGo as its default search engine, and is bundled with Disconnect. Aviator is completely devoted to squeezing off tracking data, going so far as disabling auto-play Flash elements, and making you click to start them (Flash being a prime way of both loading malicious software, and grabbing your information). It's Mac-only for now, and worth a test run for anyone who's serious about limiting data leakage.