This post is the second part of a 4 part series about consumer privacy, data security and how what this means to reputation management.

So many people participate in online conversations without much thought.  We send and receive public and private information (data) through digital platforms several times a day.  We share and engage in online activities trusting that our private information, preferences and interests (data) are protected and not at risk.

The truth is consumer privacy, data security & your reputation all have risks, known and unknown.

Consumer privacy and data security are two of our most basic digital freedoms. The unknown risks which accompany living a portion of our lives online means consumers must be on the lookout for ways to safeguard our digital rights. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has focused on safeguarding consumers rights since the 1970’s when the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was established.  Forty plus years later, the FTC continues to advance principles and best practices through their Consumer Privacy & Data Security recommendations for organizations (businesses) and policymakers.

Privacy Please

Digital Advertising Alliance

The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) creates cross-industry standards for online advertising through their self-regulatory program for online behavioral advertising. The DAA is supported by respected associations and provides resources for consumers and for companies so they can learn more about behavioral or interest based ads.

The DAA website also has detailed information about consumer rights and organization responsibilities. On the DAA website you are also able to:

  1. Learn the names of the participating companies that currently enable tailored ads for your browser.
  2. View the names of participating companies and learn about their privacy and advertising practices.
  3. Find out if you have opted out from participating companies already.
  4. Opt out of browser-enabled interest-based advertising by some or all participating companies, using opt-out cookies to store your preferences in your browser; or
  5. Select the “Choose All Companies” feature to opt out from all (currently) participating companies at once.

You can find out the names of the participating companies who have enabled interest-based ads on your browsers by going here.

The DAA also has an opt out page (currently in beta) where you can view the total number of interest based companies that currently customize ads based on sites you have visited using your browser. You’ll be stunned to see the full list of advertisers that customize ads based on your search (browser) habits.

Do Not Track

Did you realize  every time you went online you were being tracked? It’s no coincidence that the online ads you see are about products and services that interest you. The more time you spend browsing online, the more online tracking collects information about what you were searching for – even where you were searching from.

Since consumers are being followed closely online – without their knowledge, the FTC has called for more transparency from Data Brokers (those who collect and sell consumer data behind the scenes). Luckily, there’s a new browser plugin that puts advertising companies and other organizations that track your search behaviors on pause.  It’s called Do Not Track Plus or DNT+ for short. The Do Not Track Browser Plug In  stops tracking and future directed ads on Google Chrome, Firefox & Safari.  Innovation comes to the rescue again.


Your digital foot prints matters – probably far more than you realized. Your public online reputation may say who think you are, but your private browser search behaviors reflect who you actually are. You have every right to be concerned about who, what and how tracking technologies have access to your data. What if a troubled soul decided to hack into where your private information is stored and take it for a spin? The harm that could be inflicted seems to have no end.

Now that you are aware, you can continue to keep an eye on your online reputation and you can also decide if you are more comfortable keeping your online behaviors private.

Share your thoughts on consumer privacy, data security & reputation.

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