Updated: Jun 12
Is my browsing history and online activity private?
Have you ever wondered about your privacy on internet? For the average internet user, browsing the internet and being online is not nearly as private as many users may think. Even if online activity, such as browser history, or emails are deleted from devices, it is not
the only place where this is stored. It is therefore important to know that it is not private, and if this is a concern, you need to take steps to secure your privacy online.
Have you noticed that when you have searched something online and then later, an advert pops up for the exact same thing that you were searching for earlier? Did you think that that was just coincidence? It was not.
It is standard practice for our online activity to be monitored. Most of the time, it is not done with any malicious intent. It is mainly done for marketing purposes, especially for companies who does targeted paid advertising. Your browsing habits are used to build a profile and advertisements are then often displayed to you, based on this profile. (or not, if you don’t fit the profile for certain brands.)
Google, Bing, Yahoo and Facebook are among the most popular brands that profiles users, but there are many more. When the user is logged into their account, information like name, email address, birthday, gender, phone number, device location, device information, and IP address, and browsing history.
If you are mildly concerned about your browser history being recorded, then I suggest that you check your privacy and personalization settings on your browser and apps and set the various settings to private.
This alone does not mean that your online activity is now totally private. Apart from the day to day online threats that you can read more about in our article on Types of online threats, there are also personal information that are stored by service providers.
There are various governments in various countries that has entered into an agreement with each other to share information regarding their citizens. The 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes agreements are well known for the sharing of intelligence. These countries are bound by the multilateral agreement for joint cooperation in signals intelligence, military intelligence, and human intelligence. Governments can solicit private user records from service providers and share this information. If you are concerned about your privacy, then you should familiarize yourself with the surveillance practices of the country that you are in and also of the countries where the servers of the service providers that you are using are.
How to protect my privacy and personal information online
Update your privacy setting on your browser and apps.
Ensure that you have an effective anti-virus, like Norton installed on all your devices.