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Big Brother is watching you online

28 March, 2008
By Allison Orr

New analysis done by research company comScore for the New York Times shows that Web companies are learning more than ever about the tastes and preferences of Internet users.  They are then able to predict content and ads for those users and then charge high prices for carefully tailored ads.  This is changing the way advertisers are choosing where to place ads.  Unlike traditional media where a bigger audience size is the main criteria, on the web many companies are choosing sites that know more about their users.

Web company executives argue that it is an advantage to users, as the ads and content they are presented with are more relevant to their searches.  In addition, they have policies in place to protect personal information.

However, this collection of data is causing concern to privacy advocates, since most users are unaware of the "crumbs" of information they are leaving for others to follow.

A report by the University of California, Berkeley, last year found that 85 per cent of adults thought sites should not be allowed to track their behaviour on the web.

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