Tag: cookies

Source: IOL

Research by digitally-led marketing agency, Rogerwilco, indicates that only 25 percent of South Africa’s most popular websites have pop-ups that explicitly ask visitors for consent to collect data about their browsing activity.

With the Protection of Personal Information Act (Popia) coming into effect as of 1 July, these company websites are at risk of facing fines of up to R10 million for each breach.

At the same time, their executives could be jailed for 10 years.

While 90% of the sites do have a cookie policy, this is often hidden away, either in a notice in the website’s footer or buried elsewhere. The company websites investigated that don’t have an automated pop-up include Unisa, Takealot, World Sports Betting, Price Check, Vodacom, Private Property, Autotrader, Computicket, Zando, Clicks, Mweb, Fly Safair, Pick n Pay, Tsogo Sun Hotels, Department of Employment and Labour and SA Revenue Service, amongst others.

According to Rogerwilco chief executive, Charlie Stewart, “Popi requires that organisations take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that consumers know which of their personal information is being collected and for what purpose.”

While there is confusion as to whether or not South African websites need to ask visitors for their content to track them, Popi is largely based on the EU’s GDPR privacy bill, which requires people to ‘opt-in’ if tracking is applied.

“The penalties for non-compliance with Popi are significant, but fortunately, a 12-month grace period will apply during which organisations can get their house in order,” said Stewart.

He said, “The most shocking outcome from this research is that two years on from Cambridge Analytica, a scandal that changed the world, brands continue to play fast and loose with consumers’ data.

The debate must move beyond paying lip service to the legal compliance requirements and into a space where companies recognise that they need to restore consumer trust. Policies are not there to make the life of the marketers harder, but the experience of the customers better.”

What are cookies?

Cookies are text files that are stored on your device each time you visit a website. They store information about your activity which companies use to improve your interactions with websites. For example, if you log onto a website that uses cookies and you revisit it later, the cookies ensure that the website ‘remembers’ your information such as login and password, format settings, and website sections/pages/items viewed. This data is also sold to advertisers, which is why ads relating to a product that you previously searched for appear on other sites you visit.

By Cheyenne MacDonald for DailyMail

Google’s private browsing options may not be as incognito as you’d expect.

New research into Google’s ‘filter bubbles,’ in which search results are personalized based on the data it’s collected about you, has found that logging out or switching to Incognito Mode does almost nothing to shield you from targeted results.

By comparing search results for controversial topics, including gun control, immigration, and vaccinations, the study (notably conducted by rival search engine, DuckDuckGo) uncovered significant variations in what different users were shown.

New research into Google’s ‘filter bubbles,’ in which search results are personalised based on the data it’s collected about you, has found that logging out or switching to Incognito Mode does almost nothing to shield you from targeted results.

Despite the common assumption that logging out or going Incognito provides anonymity, DuckDuckGo points out that this isn’t really the case.

Websites use several other identifying factors to keep tabs on users’ activity, including IP addresses.

To highlight the issue, DuckDuckGo recruited volunteers in the US to perform a series of searches for the terms ‘gun control,’ ‘immigration,’ and ‘vaccinations.’

All were tasked to do this at the same time, at 9pm ET on Sunday, June 24, in Incognito, logged out, and then logged back in.

The study also controlled for location, DuckDuckGo notes.

This made for 87 sets of results in total, with 76 desktop users and 11 mobile users.

Despite the anonymised conditions, which would be expected to produce the same results across the board, most of the participants still appeared to see personalised results.

Private searches for gun control, for example, yielded 62 different sets of results for the 76 participants.

Similar trends were seen in searches for the other two terms, with 57 variations in ‘immigration’ results, and 73 variations in ‘vaccinations’ results.

Users were shown links in different orders, and some were shown links that were not displayed to others.

News and Video infoboxes, in particular, demonstrated ‘significant variation.’

A search for ‘immigration,’ for example, pulled up six variations from six different sources in the Videos infobox, while ‘gun control’ led to 12 variations from 7 sources.

According to DuckDuckGo, the findings indicate that ‘it’s simply not possible to use Google search and avoid its filter bubble.’

While the motivations behind the study are undoubtedly biased, the findings still stand as a reminder that true anonymity on the internet isn’t as straightforward as it might seem.

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