This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

September 24, 2013

Increased privacy on the web

A lot of people resent intrusion of their privacy. And that doesn't necessarily mean that they're doing anything wrong, they just don't like the feeling of someone watching over their shoulder. As a webmaster, and someone who consults on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), this fascinates me. My clients want to know who's visiting their websites, where are they coming from, etc., etc., and yes, some of that information has been very easy to find out. But it's about to get a lot harder.

If you have Google Analytics and I visit your website, you will know that I am in Glendale, Arizona. Actually, I usually show up as Peoria, as I am right on the border. You can see that I use a Macintosh computer, when I visited, how many pages I looked at, and for long, that sort of thing. And if you have cookies on your site, like Walmart does, you know that I ordered three boxes of Cheerios last week.

But increasingly, people are choosing to have information blocked. The first I saw of this was the blocking, by Google, of search engine requests. For example, on Google Analytics, you can see if someone found your site by searching for "dachshunds" or "wiener dogs". But even that is going away. The vast majority of searches are not done in a way that won't allow them to be displayed.

Oddly enough, what is driving this increased privacy is the desire for people to visit, uh, websites, that, uh, well you know. And so a browser like Chrome has "incognito", Opera has "private browsing". This blocks everything from cookies to your geographical location. And it leaves no trail after you have quit the browser.

Personally, I like having a site like Walmart remember that I ordered Cheerios, so I can order them again next month. So I have no real desire to be "incognito". But a lot of people put a premium on privacy, even if they're not visiting those, uh, websites, uh, you know. And this will drive the future of the internet into being a place where if you want to provide information, you will do it yourself, it won't be automatically collected. And the best place to provide information about yourself, your private life, etc., is on Facebook. And that's a choice that you make.

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