It’s Privacy Awareness Week in New Zealand from Sunday 29 April.

Privacy on the Internet is something that a lot of people are interested in, but there are few simple explanations of the issues.

In this article I’d like to explain a bit about how your activity on the Internet is tracked, and what you can do about it.

Web Tracking

When you look at a website, it’s quite usual for your web browser to automatically communicate with several other websites at the same time. For example, the site you want to look at might also connect to social networking sites, show advertising from other sites, and use third-party analytics to profile you.

Here’s a simplified diagram to show how a tracking and advertising company might build a profile based on your activity tracked across multiple websites.

Diagram showing web tracking used to build a profile across multiple websites.

Like the example in the diagram, most of this is quite benign. Maybe you want to see the highest bidder’s most relevant camera advertisements.

But if you’re like me, you may prefer that it just doesn’t happen.

Tracking Protection

Tracking protection puts you in control of websites that try to track you.

And it’s really simple. Privacy advocates and other experts have put together ready-made lists of sites so you can minimise unwanted web tracking without losing any part of the website that you actually want to see.

EasyList is a popular choice. If you're using Internet Explorer 9, just click the link and choose "Add List".

Tracking Protection stops the unwanted tracking sites from having any contact with you, so they simply can’t see what you’re doing on the Internet.

Diagram showing illustrating that Tracking Protection can block unwanted tracking.

If you use multiple computers, tracking Protection needs to be enabled on each one.

Microsoft has proposed it as a web standard, and we hope other web browsers will also adopt this technology to enhance your privacy on the Internet. You can see the tracking protection options offered by the main web browsers here.

Article by Waldo Kuipers, Corporate Affairs Manager, Microsoft New Zealand Limited