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Technology How to stop tracking on health sites

12:21  03 december  2019
12:21  03 december  2019 Source:   techradar.com

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With health data being used by third party trackers to target you when you’re potentially at your most vulnerable, Mozilla articulates how you can protect yourself from this threat. TechRadar is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site , we may earn an affiliate commission.

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a close up of text on a black background: How to stop tracking on health sites© Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. How to stop tracking on health sites

There’s probably no greater expectation of privacy than when it comes to a person’s health. But the pervasive third party tracking that we’ve recently learned many health websites engage in has made the internet untrustworthy for people who turn to it during this vulnerable time in their lives.

Instead of offering up private access to valuable information, support, medical records, research and health care providers, many health websites are preying on people, scooping up their data in exchange for access to these potentially life-saving online services and information when they’re needed the most. No one’s health information should be for sale, or collected to potentially be used against you. We refuse to accept that people should have to choose between the technology they use every day, and the privacy they deserve.

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At least 75 companies receive people’s precise location data from hundreds of apps whose users enable location services for benefits such as weather alerts, The New York Times found. The companies use, store or sell the information to help advertisers, investment firms and others.

Here's how to stop apps on your iPhone or Android phone from tracking you all the time. The New York Times recently published a report that revealed how easy it is to identify people using location data collected by apps on our phones.

About the author

Peter Dolanjski is the Director, Security and Privacy Products, at Mozilla.

So how is health data being used by third party trackers to target you when you’re potentially at your most vulnerable? Let’s look at the facts. According to a recent investigation by the Financial Times, third party tracking practices on health websites is widespread:

Some of the UK’s most popular health websites are sharing people’s sensitive data — including medical symptoms, diagnoses, drug names and menstrual and fertility information — with dozens of companies around the world, ranging from ad-targeting giants such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Oracle, to lesser-known data-brokers and adtech firms like Scorecard and OpenX.

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Others are creeped out by this feature. If you belong to the latter group of people, then I will show you a quick and easy way to stop your iPhone from tracking your Before we move forward, I want to make clear that all the health data collected by your iPhone is in no way shared with anyone, not even Apple.

Sharing sensitive, personal health information — like menstruation, fertility and medical conditions — with third parties without a user’s consent is sticky territory in the UK thanks to the ePrivacy Directive (known as the Cookie law) and specific restrictions in the GDPR regulations.

Sharing data

According to the investigation, personal data like drug names, symptoms, diagnoses and ovulation cycle information has been shared with companies including Google, Facebook and Amazon. And in some cases, unique identifiers were shared with third parties and tracker cookies were dropped without user consent.

This practice isn’t always unlawful, but it is invasive and concerning. And it has become common practice online. It’s not just a pair of shoes following you around the internet. Data trackers are used to learn a great deal more about you than your footwear obsession, including your age, ethnicity, location and even your financial situation, which advertisers can target you against, making it possible for advertisers to know very personal things about what you might be going through based on your internet consumption. This is incredibly personal information that advertisers want for their marketing but just don’t need to know about you. And now we know these same practices are also occurring on health-related websites.

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I have been trying to revive an old health blog (on a new domain). As it is a brand new blog, I don’t I suspected that those visits reflected the times I was working on my site . That, I thought was So, in this post I will show you what I did to stop Google Analytics from tracking my my visits to my blog.

Today we’re all being tracked by more gadgets than ever before, and in ways that might not be immediately obvious; but it is possible to put It also encrypts data sent between you and the web, though it doesn’t necessarily do much to stop data tracking on the web. Sites will still be able to

Keep health issues private

Confronting health issues is a vulnerable time, and something most people would prefer to keep private. Third party trackers make this virtually impossible, however. When third party trackers are deployed behind the scenes of a website, there is no real way for you to know any of the following:

  • what information they collect about you
  • what they do with it
  • how securely it is stored
  • how long it will be circulated
  • who they are sharing it with, and
  • who they are selling it to.

It’s equally impossible for us to know how and when this information will be used for price discrimination, employment discrimination, service denials, election influencing, and other insidious practices. So with one simple click, one of the most private parts of your life, your health information, has been transmitted to companies that never obtained your consent to collect it. It’s unsettling to think about how this data is being used.

How to block trackers before they can track you

If you’re fed up with the level of third party tracking happening on the web or want to see which companies are lurking behind the scenes when you visit a website, fortunately there are ways you can get this information and take control of your personal data. It starts with making the most of the privacy functions on your browser.

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This wikiHow teaches you how to prevent emails from tracking information such as when you opened the email or your location. It will turn white. Now any emails that you open in the Mail app won't load images, which will disable the majority of email tracking on your iPhone.

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For example, at Firefox, we recently introduced privacy protections that block this type of tracking by default and a dashboard that reveals the multitude of third parties attempting to record what you’re doing, behind the scenes and without your consent, on the web pages you visit.

New tracking protection tools can block known social media trackers, cross-site tracking cookies, cryptominers and tracking content in private windows on all sites, which provides a good balance of tracking protection while not breaking your favourite websites. Some browsers also now have setting options that allow you to boost or fine tune your privacy protections depending on your preferences, such as whether you want to block fingerprinting and tracking content in all windows or just private ones.

The numbers speak for themselves - over the course of a day, we estimated that everyone using Firefox will block over 12 billion trackers combined. That’s an incredible amount of personal, private information that you are keeping out of the black box of third party data collection by just using simple and convenient privacy-protecting tools in your browser.

The reality is that people value their privacy and are no longer acquiescent when it comes to being tracked. It’s high time we stop these trackers at the door.

Peter Dolanjski is the Director, Security and Privacy Products, at Mozilla.

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Opera's latest browser update will show you how much you're being tracked .
With its previous release, Opera unveiled a tracker blocker for its browser that sped it up by up to 20 percent and offered more privacy, to boot. With the latest version, you'll be able to see a list of those trackers to get an idea of just how often advertisers and websites are watching you. The aim is to increase awareness of the pervasiveness of tracking, as if you didn't already know. However, it might be interesting to see exactly who is tracking you to avoid particularly skeevy sites. You can turn the setting on globally from the "easy setup" menu and then toggle it on or off from each website, much as you do with a typical ad blocker.

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