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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014

Cookies are toast, so what's next in online tracking?

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


When it comes to tracking your activity online, the cookie is going away. But where are the laws we need to protect us as Internet tracking evolves?

Apple has a unique identifier for every mobile device they sell. Then they provide that unique code to advertisers, so you can be tracked in every way.

The reality is we're already way past cookies, which are a term for what allows companies to track every place you go and everything you do online. Data miners can then build a dossier on you using the info gathered from cookies. But both Firefox and Chrome make secure browsing really easy, where you're not putting the cookie trail out there.

The reality is the laws of our country are far behind what we should have a right to expect as people. The industry is afraid that we will be in a position where the public demands new laws to protect our privacy. California is moving along those lines, and you'll see others states doing the same.

So the industry is trying to get ahead of this trend. An industry trade association proposes you be given an on/off switch to choose that people do not track you. We'll see what comes of that; it will require websites, app developers, and advertisers to honor what's essentially a kill switch.

I would much rather an industry solution than a crazy patchwork of state laws. Because the creepout factor with how people drill down into our lives through tracking is not OK. So the industry better get this one together, or I guarantee you, we're gonna have laws!

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