Presented by

  • Anne Jessel

    Anne Jessel

    Anne works on website optimisation, digital marketing, software development and a hundred other things at Coherent Digital. She used the Internet before the Web existed, has been using Linux since 1994 and built her first commercial e-commerce website from scratch using Perl in 1995. Anne is a past president of Australasian Web Publishers Association Inc. She is the author of a book on using the Internet for family history research that went to three editions. Anne has contributed to several open source projects, in particular Apache OFBiz, an open source Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Away from her computer, Anne loves travelling and is currently president of Friends of Native Wildlife Inc, an association working on conserving and improving wildlife habitat in the Bayside region of Melbourne. She is well known for her ability to wangle a cup of tea in a room full of coffee drinkers and likes bacon and tequila, usually separately.

Abstract

Many people know that Facebook and other companies track what we do online. Cookies and JavaScript are complicit in allowing Facebook and others to know what we like and who our friends are. Some people accept this as part of the price of a $0 service they enjoy using. Others take care to block cookies, and reduce the amount of personal data that third parties can gather about them. But what information is really being collected when you are using the web? Where, when and how is it being collected? Do those who agree to this data collection really know what they are handing over? And are those who don't agree having any success at protecting their personal data? I will show you how extensive is the information Facebook openly admits to collecting (if you know where to look!), and how easy it is for Facebook to collect it without your knowledge. You will also see how third parties routinely gather your data from other websites, in many cases without the website owner realising. We will look at a real world example by analysing a fairly typical website of a well-known company that isn't known for its data collection, to see what sorts of things it is sending to third parties. In addition, you'll see the results of research into what those third parties use the data for. Finally I will discuss what you can do if you wish to better protect your personal data, and some of the problems you may face, including why deleting your cookies may be counter-productive.