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    Voice of America: Footprints on the Internet

    Voice of America has an article about the data left by users as they browse the Internet and how companies can gather and use that personal data in targeted behavioral advertising.

    It’s called behavioral marketing, but it might just as well be called virtual profiling. Websites, search engines, advertising agencies and Internet data collectors – they’re all using relatively basic technology to record what you’re looking at, how much you like it, and most importantly, what you might want to buy online. […]

    Here’s how behavioral marketing works. Websites drop what are called “cookies” into a visitor’s computer. This cookie is really the technology that tracks us as we click around within a website and as we move from site to site. This detailed information is blended into customer profiles and used mostly by Internet advertising networks to target consumers.

    Do you bank online? The cookie will remember. Buying shoes? The cookie tracks where you shop, and how much you spend. Emailing your friends about a new movie? The cookie knows before your friends do. […]

    It isn’t just networking sites like Facebook, or retailers like Amazon. Cookie-generated data is also gathered by data collection companies. That information is packaged into millions of customer profiles that are then grouped, bundled and sold to advertising networks. […]

    Adding to the concerns are a new generation of computer algorithms that amass known information about a user, then draw predictions about what they might be like in their public, and their private lives.

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