Tis the Season

For being a Luddite, I do a lot of my Christmas shopping online. It seems this year a lot of websites are “broken” if I do not allow tracking. Guess what? I don’t buy from them. If the website “breaks” when using only the Standard Firefox privacy settings, there is something wrong with the site construction.

Sorry but far too many people allow far too much information to be gathered, and far too many website makers are far too eager to gather it.

Wise up, people.


I’m not a fan of being tracked for purposes I find intrusive, but…

Tracking on an e-commerce site is mostly necessary to keep track of what one might have placed in one’s shopping cart. Common ways to do this are with cookies and session tokens.

With cookies, your cart contents would be kept as a cookie on your browser, which starts to get messy and pose security issues. Cookies are great for sites like GDF forum that keep you logged in by means of a browser cookie that authenticates you each time you load a page. Cookies are less great for keeping track of complex shopping carts and, besides, on an e-commerce site they can present security problems.

User sessions using tokens are a little different. With them the store assigns each new visitor a unique session number. Each time the visitor calls up a new page, only that session number is transmitted from one’s browser to the server. As the shopper moves through the site, adding things to the cart, removing things, adding coupons, changing quantities, etc., the only thing that moves from the browser to the server is an anonymous token number that the server on the other end keeps track of it instead of writing everything into a browser cookie.

Yes, merchants can misuse this to build up a profile of particular users for marketing purposes, which isn’t necessarily good. Besides, with any sale, no matter how it’s tracked, the merchant has a record of everything anyway. However, that’s really not the main purpose — without keeping track of a shopper’s behavior as that shopper interacts with the website, shopping online in the way that most people have come to expect wouldn’t be possible.

What he said.

There is a record of everything you do online (especially shopping, since, as B pointed out, its sound execution would be impossible without keeping track), regardless of whether you “allow tracking”. It’s simply the nature of the platform and always was. It’s just more visible than ever as the depth of use and abuse increases.

Some sites work and some don’t.
Are you saying some of those sites that do work are less secure?
This is only using the Standard security that comes with Firefox. If i use it on any higher security level some sites won’t even load.

Perhaps the internet isn’t, and never was, ready for “secure transactions.”
I have always known it to be a huge privacy breach. Now it is even more so in ways the average person cannot even begin to fathom.

I operate under the delusion that I still have some privacy. I know, I know . . . it’s long gone. So, yeah, I hate the idea of tracking.

I will generally try to buy local first, non-Amazon online store second, and Amazon only if I really can’t find it anywhere else. I cringe every time an Amazon box shows up. The one exception to the rule is for my bicycle tires. I like to support my local bike shops, but it’s hard to justify $80 for a tire ($160 for a set) if I can get the same thing from a non-Amazon website. for $45 or $50.

It’s not that clear-cut. What I’m saying is that financial transactions on the web or at a local store involve sharing and tracking of information. It’s a necessary part of ensuring the security and integrity of the financial transaction.

It’s not those security measures that are the problem. In my opinion, it’s the subsequent sharing of the information obtained during those transactions and the big data integration of all that information in ways that are big brotherish and invade personal privacy and confidentiality.

Using a credit card, whether online or at a local restaurant, leaves a record of that transaction and everything that accompanied it. Unless a person prefers to deal exclusively in cash, there’s no way around the fact that information is being shared that is subject to being used in ways that compromise one’s privacy.

As for the specifics of online merchants, they’re mostly interested in making a sale and doing so in the most secure way possible. Those merchants also have a stake in making the transactions as frequent and easy and customer-friendly as possible, so they develop all kinds of ways to ensure both data security and the customization of the experience for individual users and their preferences.

I don’t know what kind of algorithms Firefox or any other browsers use to decide when something has crossed the line — excessive tracking, security lapses, reputation, whatever — but that line is awfully blurry since the same data that’s necessary for a positive customer experience and security can also be used for nefarious purposes by those inclined to do so. And yeah, there are lots of online merchants and services that ignore the no-tracking settings in browsers.

I’ve had two merchant websites recently - one last night- that said I needed to turn off my ad-blocker in order to complete a sale, which seemed to me to be really weird. One of them, the order item click wouldn’t work, the other would not complete the sale after filling in all the shipping and CC info. Both I had used before. The first one lost my business, the second one, I called to complete the transaction on the phone and told them they should check that adblocker thing. I’m sure it was probably a “customers who bought that also bought this” kind of thing, but still… other sites can do that without breaking.

I particularly like the websites I visit where Firefox tells me it prevented a social media from tracking me there. I don’t even do social media (except for a couple of forums.)


If you decide to establish a relationship with an e-commerce Web site, they learn a lot about you. how safe it is? In order to properly handle the processing, payment and shipment of your orders, e-commerce Web sites collect information such as your address, phone numbers, email and payment accounts. In addition web sites retain information about your preferences to make your shopping experience more personal. You are able to create wish lists and merchandise you have looked at before.

To avoid any risky business stay away for sites that use outside SSL certs like Etsy, PayPal or other external payment services. Another commonly used piece of information is the Internet protocol (IP) address of the computer you are using. They can check the geographic location of visitors to their site. I tell people I know and customers all the time make sure you have a unique password on you wireless router. The biggest risk is when some hacker gets you financial information such as SS# or checking account. This is why using well know website and sites that have securities https settings in there hosting and good quality form security.

If you are collecting ANY sensitive information on your website (including email and password), then you need to be secure. One of the best ways to do that is to enable https, also known as SSL (secure socket layers), so that any information going to and from your server is automatically encrypted. The prevents hackers from sniffing out your visitors’ sensitive information as it passes through the internet.

I guess what I saying is be careful where you do business on the net, just like you would in the real world.

I think it’s fair to say you’re not comfortable shopping at online stores that collect excessive customer data.

I didn’t even like the customer loyalty keychain cards when those came out decades ago.
I still don’t have a CVS card. First time I found out you couldn’t buy items on sale without one and the cashier wouldn’t use the counter card any more, yup, left without a purchase.
Didn’t need that Easter candy that badly anyway. LOL.

I think my gripe is more that no one seems to know what they are giving up in the name of convenience. And it’s beyond too late to claw it all back, short of some kind of massive EMP event or meteor strike…
But those would make for a really bad day. Don’t need that either.

In the news today . . .

Facebook says it can locate users who opt out of tracking

My cartoon character twitter account based in another country asked a yes or no question to applesupport through messages. the cartoon character stopped the conversation by telling the support person “never mind, thank you, good bye”

an hour later I received a phone call from apple support over this query.
after checking all my info, the number they called was not listed.
somehow apple found an old number and called.

One of the reasons people cited for not wanting to shop at Radio Shack, and therefore contributing to their bankruptcy, was that they took personal information down whenever anyone made a purchase.

Unfortunately, in our legal system, personal secrecy rights are secondary to business law. The reason: The judges say they aren’t experts in business, so they don’t get involved. How’s that for bullshit? (pardon)


OMG, that pissed me off soooo much.

Not to be all “aluminum hat wearing conspiracy theorist”, but if you’re worried about tracking, there’s only so much you can do about it.

This recent article (and series) by the NY Times is pretty eye opening.

Credit Card safety chips are hackable by people within about 5 feet of you, through your wallet or purse or if used on any CC machine.

So are your passport chips.
Faraday sleeves.

And when I go for tinfoil helmets, I go all out:

i posted my scenario on The verge how apple called my house and some relies were “so?”
I asked then if it was oaky if i called them aat home bout this article.
we hav eno privacy left and now no restcirions on who can do what.
apple is bad with this, i cannot operate my iphone without an ID, which i deleted yesterday.
they treat there device as they still owm them.

Personally I don’t pay as much attention to internet security other than like viruses and stuff because I logged into it in the first place.

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