Hidden trackers invade your browser — how to delete them?
“I didn’t think it was possible,” he says of his sudden interest in tracking software and apps that track your activity across several websites or apps.
But he had to find out, since he was under surveillance by a secret federal agency he didn’t know existed.
After he contacted the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a nonprofit that monitors government secrecy, and the Associated Press, which investigates media bias, he was shocked to learn that the government is secretly monitoring his every move — even without a court order — for signs of criminal wrongdoing.
“I decided it was time to clean out my browser and I haven’t looked back since,” he says.
He says he never uses any of the programs that track his online activity. But he has to use the apps and websites that have been developed by private companies that track his purchases, searches and web traffic. And he has to use them without knowing they’re tracking him or even the type of device that’s monitoring his internet activity — there’s no way to tell by looking at the programs.
How do these tracking companies get a court order, which they need to monitor someone’s online activity? Is it even possible to find out?
The answer to the first question is: “It’s not possible to find out,” says Scott Greenfield, founder and president of the Internet Archive, which oversees a collection of electronic versions of the world’s most important documents and is the organization that has been battling the government in courts for years to reveal which documents have been secret and which have not.
The answer to the second question is: “Of course, that doesn’t mean you should be tracking someone’s movement online,” he warns. Tracking someone’s online activity is one tool that a monitoring company uses to get a little more information and maybe even find out who, or what, is making them do things they don’t like.
But the third question is the real deal-breaker: “No matter what the government wants to do, Americans deserve to have a private and open internet,” Greenfield says.
The government wants to create the private internet, he says — the one that’s in the Constitution.
“The government wants to change our fundamental design, our design of the