One of the growing problems with e-commerce is that many of the actions being committed by major corporations are going unregulated. In this case, AT&T is the culprit of using a “super cookie” to track consumers and watch their every move. One of the most promising aspects of digital technology for potential advertisers is that they are better than ever before able to follow nearly every move of the consumer. They know what you like, what you do, how long you’re on the web, what kind of devices you use, etc. In fact, they know these things better than you know them yourself.
In some ways, this creates an environment where companies are better able to market products to you that you’re likely to appreciate. This can sometimes be a good thing. But the short end of that stick is that because they know your habits so well, they are more readily able to fool you into spending money that you don’t want to spend.
One other possibility to keep in mind is the fact that there is technology out there that you’re probably not yet aware of. Consumer watch dogs are not able to track everything that corporations are doing, and they certainly can’t keep up with the government. So, don’t be surprised if your digital devices are spying on you in other ways, such as recording phone conversations, skype chats and other things that we might deem to be private.
It’s a brave new world, and you can either live in it or try to avoid it. There aren’t many options outside of that. Read on….
AT&T appears to have ended a controversial program that used hidden “super cookies” to track smart phone users as they surfed the web.
The year-long program added a hidden and undeletable tracking number into all the Web traffic on a users’ cell phone.
The news site ProPublic reported Friday that AT&T had ended the practice. The company did not immediately respond to a USA TODAY request for confirmation.
Verizon Wireless, the country’s largest mobile firm, said Friday it still uses this type of tracking. There has been no evidence that Sprint and T-Mobile have used such codes.
The AT&T codes appear to have been in place to track cell phone users’ web surfing for the past year but only become public in late October.
The unique identifier code marks each website a subscriber visits. This allows the company–and advertisers–to build up a profile of everything the subscriber does online, by following the trail of sites he or she has visited.
It’s a problem because people with AT&T smart phone accounts didn’t know their every move was being tracked and because cell phones have become many people’s “second brain,” said Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, a senior staff technologist with theElectronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.