NEW YORK--()--International Data Privacy Day
“Tracking cookies are not only obnoxious, they leave crumbs that lead marketers straight to your door”
"Tracking cookies are not only obnoxious, they leave crumbs that lead marketers straight to your door," says Robert Beens, CEO of Startpage.com, the World's Most Private Search Engine.
So he's making it his mission to educate consumers about the "Internet crumbs" cookies leave behind. He's also encouraging consumers to delete tracking cookies from their computers on January 28 in honor of International Data Privacy Day.
Tracking cookies are "a huge privacy problem," according to Beens, who accuses advertisers of being information vultures. "A better name for them might be 'stalker cookies'," he says.
What some Internet companies are doing with consumer information is unconscionable, Beens contends. "Most consumers are unaware of how most big websites and search engines capture user cookie information and IP addresses to record their search terms, the times of their visits, and the links they click."
He points out that search engine records are especially invasive because they can reveal extremely personal information, like someone's interests, family situation, and medical conditions. These profiles are often stored in giant databases and used for marketing purposes. They can also be hacked or subpoenaed.
"Internet information can come back to haunt you," Beens warns. "If you search for information about diabetes, for example, that could be added to your consumer profile and potentially raise a red flag if you apply for a new job or a life insurance policy."
Beens' company offers consumers a cookie-free service, even when they want custom search settings. Its new URL Generator encodes these settings in an anonymous URL that can be bookmarked or used to create an address bar search box. For example, if someone prefers large font and family-friendly filtering, the URL will automatically deliver searches just the way he or she likes them at every visit.
Startpage has always offered a non-identifying, anonymous cookie option for storing custom settings. This is still available for those users who selectively delete tracking cookies and know how to whitelist Startpage's privacy-friendly cookie.
"Our new URL Generator is just one more way we're offering innovative, privacy-friendly searches and helping to change how the Internet does business," says Beens. "We believe that privacy is a fundamental right and the basis of a free society. We're helping consumers enjoy all the Internet has to offer without giving up that right."