Privacy / Security

What are advertising IDs and how they are harming online privacy?

Advertising IDs are user-specific, resettable IDs provided by Google Play services for advertising. These IDs give rights to the developers, to monetize user’s digital activities through apps; you find ads on almost every web-page, means they are highly pervasive. Why is this so? Because web-pages make out of advertising; more the ad is invasive, higher the returns. An Advertising ID is just like car tracker of your device, which tracks your every move within the digital arena. Each device assigned an ID to help advertisers to target their potential customers and to know whether you’re a prospective customer or not, your location and your browsing prints are 24/7 under observation.

Google records your purchasing habits with an advertising ID, so if you have an android phone, means Google knows all your secret purchases. You can easily see and change your Google advertising ID anytime in the Google settings. To remain anonymous in the Google surveillance, select out of interest-based ads in Ads screen option and stop sharing your interests with Google. Apple and Facebook also have their separate Ad IDs assigned to each user and the data than shared to developers so you will receive ads of your interest.

Do you know, Google earned $79.4 billion whereas, Facebook received over $10 billion only from ads. Why would any company lose substantial financial returns and remain ethical? Now you will understand how these apps make money and survive; without charging a single penny from the users. Though Google doesn’t practice unethically much, still it is an unethical way to use user’s information to sell the products.

Then, how malvertising targeted to users?

Since the concept of Malvertising has badly penetrated in our lives; we on and off bombarded with ads, containing malicious content. Some websites create ads explicitly to spread malware and advertisers are targeted to the particular people via an advertising ID. Adobe flash is the most common platform to inflict malware. Such ads offer higher bids to the websites for spreading their malware, and If you mistakenly visit a website who does not have sufficient cash at the moment and accepted the advertiser’s bid, then your identity is with the malware.
Advertising IDs are the severe damn business; not only generating money but also for the hidden political agendas. Reportedly, in the recent US Presidential elections, pro-Russian activists used advertising ids to propagate political agendas, and those ads used to redirect users to ad-revenue generating websites and other pro-Russian videos.

Advertising IDs are right for you as you can customize the ads being exposed to you but sadly in this process, your digital footprints are being monetized for both; good and evil. Even opting out of interest-based ads does not suspend ad IDs to keep your digital logs, you can do this only with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Find best VPN service and anonymize your digital presence in the digital universe; you and identity remain secure and protected, and you can also access anything you like.

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