dragnet nationThe TV show “Sixty Minutes” recently focused on companies who track you for marketing purposes. Their website,, gives tips on being virtually invisible.

Our readers are so savvy that one of them had already told us a few of those tips, such as using instead of Google to browse the web. Google saves and lists all your web searches, DuckDuckGo doesn’t. He also uses a Firefox extension called “No Script,” to stop trackers. No Script stops sites from depositing little software scripts, mostly “cookies,” on your computer.

There are hundreds of data brokers out there looking for your info. Julia Angwin, a Wall Street Journal reporter, has a book about it called “Dragnet Nation.” She found 200 companies were tracking her but was only able to disconnect from half of them. In some cases, they wanted her credit card information before they would let her go. She refused. Her solution is to use a free web extension called “MaskMe,” to help hide her email address, credit card numbers and phone numbers as she browsed the web.

Another way to go is FreedomPop’s “Privacy Phone,” a re-configured Samsung Galaxy S2 that sells for $189. It comes with unlimited text and voice calling. Might be useful for the criminal class.

If you want to see how many people are tracking you when you go on the web, get a copy of “Disconnect,” which is free from The result will be something of a shock. The software is offered on a “pay whatever you want” situation, so you don’t have to pay anything if that’s your inclination.

Because people, companies and government agencies can track your location by “pinging” your cell phone, you can prevent that by putting it in a “Faraday bag” ($32 at Amazon, for example). This is named for Michael Faraday, the 19th century scientist who invented the electric motor and generator. A Faraday cage, which is what’s in the Faraday bag, uses a conducting screen, like copper mesh, to ground any wireless transmission. He was a clever guy.

Most of this is way too much trouble for us. If anyone wants to know we’re on our way to get some sandwiches from the deli, enjoy.


  1. Ironically, this very post will serve to be detrimental to your blog, Bob. You track, too. Tracking is not nice, I wouldn’t track you guys – why track us?

  2. As far as we know, we don’t track. Something else on your computer is tracking. We can ask our WordPress programmer, whom we hire a couple times a year, about this. If there’s any information we don’t see it and we didn’t do it.

  3. We contacted our programmer regarding J. Edgar’s comment. Here is what she said:

    “You can’t turn off cookies – only the individual on their individual device can do this.

    I’ve checked your code and you aren’t using any form of Google tracking.

    None of your plug ins are trackers.

    However, the very fact that the reader has selected to put their email address into your website means they have selected to be tracked in this particular case.

    The link in his comment is a screenshot to Disconnect which I looked up and is a private search engine that shows tracking on sites.

    The first screenshot shows a request from Google from your social share bar.

    The second screenshot in the removed comments shows 23 requests from your website content however, I have been unable to replicate this.

    And this is his choice to accept these cookies as he can just adjust his browser not to accept them.

    The very website that he has used is also tracking him in the same way.”