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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 06-29-2007
Hiro
 

Posts: n/a
Personal info
Sometimes when I go websites, I find ads displaying info about me like my
location which is dead accurate. It scares me a lot when ever I encounter
these ads. Is there a way I can view all personal info on Vista and be able
to change it? Much thanks.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 06-29-2007
David Dickinson
 

Posts: n/a
Re: Personal info
"Hiro" <Hiro@discussions.microsoft.com> wrote in message
news:ACAFFE7F-60DD-4CDC-B9C0-4BE7355ADBFA@microsoft.com...
> Sometimes when I go websites, I find ads displaying info about me like my
> location which is dead accurate. It scares me a lot when ever I encounter
> these ads. Is there a way I can view all personal info on Vista and be
> able
> to change it? Much thanks.


There are two main aspects to this, one of which should be of concern to
you, and the other which shouldn't. It depends on the specificity of the
information they show about you. However, please keep in mind that the
worst web sites won't give you any idea that they're collecting any
information about you for unethical purposes.

1) The most likely way that a web site you visited can tell -- in a
relatively vague way -- where you are, is from the IP address of your
computer when you're connected to the internet. Ranges of IP addresses are
assigned to various ISP and institutions. If, for instance, you use
Smalltown Internet Services as your ISP and SIS services only customers in
Smalltown, all a site has to do is look up in a database that SIS
distributes those addresses and it can guess that you live in Smalltown.
There are other ways to make reasonably close guesses about where you live,
but they won't get any personally identifiable information about you from
that alone. This may be alarming and might be used in unethical marketing
practices (to make you needlessly afraid), but it's relatively innocuous.
The site that you visited, while possibly rude, is probably harmless.

However, almost any web site will record your IP address when you submit a
financial or other legally binding transaction. This is necessary to
protect both them and you.

2) A site might use "tracking cookies. Let's say you go to a site and fill
in a form with your name, address, phone number, etc. The site will store
that information in a database. It then also might put a cookie on your
computer that uniquely identifies you and associates you with that entry in
their database.

Later, when you visit that site again or visit another site that retrieves
that cookie (in which case it is most likely a "third-party" cookie), then
that site can look up your entry in that database to retrieve whatever
information they have collected about you. It can also record in that
database that you were interested in that web site, what time of day you
visited, how many pages you visited, what specific content you saw, how long
you saw it. With enough information about you like that, data mining
programs and analysts can glean a lot of information about you and make good
guesses about such things as which pinkie finger you use to scratch your
nose.

Tracking cookies are relatively easy to control, however. You can use
anti-spyware software that detects and deletes them, or you can customize
cookie handling in Internet Explorer (or whatever browser you use) to
eliminate 3rd-party cookies, or you can use tools registry or hosts files
lists that block bad guy sites. Lots are available. This is not an
exhaustive list of ways to block tracking cookies, but it'll get you
started, and it's probably good enough.

However, please note that not all cookies are bad. Some are very useful and
are used ethically. The best thing that you can do is to review a web
site's privacy policy if you have any questions.

There might be other methods that a really sophisticated web site employs,
but these two are the most common for the phenomenon that you described.

I hope this helps.

--
David ****inson
eveningstar at die-spammer-die dash mvps dot org
Please reply only to the newsgroup, not by email.

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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 06-29-2007
Kevin Hicks
 

Posts: n/a
RE: Personal info
Yes, i find these as well sometimes. These ads are not meant to harm you,
spam, or solicit your information in any way. Also, they will not have any
vital information about you on the ad. And they should not store any
information collected without your consent. If you find the ad does have
valueable information about you (like credit card numbers, your last name,
address, etc.), contact the advertising company and complain. If all else
fails, contact your local police.

"Hiro" wrote:

> Sometimes when I go websites, I find ads displaying info about me like my
> location which is dead accurate. It scares me a lot when ever I encounter
> these ads. Is there a way I can view all personal info on Vista and be able
> to change it? Much thanks.

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  #4 (permalink)  
Old 06-29-2007
Mike Hall - MVP
 

Posts: n/a
Re: Personal info
It is all based upon IP address and relatively harmless.. my personal blog
has code which greets the visitor with ".. extend a warm welcome to you, our
visitor from <IP address location>, and we hope that you enjoy our site". It
also shows the visitors national flag, always assuming that the IP address
database being used is up to date and accurate of course..

My IP address starts with the numbers '64' which is all of Ontario, Canada
and part at least New York state.. Ontario is the second largest province in
the second largest country on earth.. the rest of my IP address narrows me
down to just one part of Ontario, but even that part is larger than some US
states and countries around the world.. find me if you can!!

For advertizers, it is useful info.. for instance, if I have a friend in
Vancouver, BC (approx three thousand miles that-a-way) who wants me to check
out a car on a Vancouver auto sales website, it will be easy enough to
determine that I will not be buying a vehicle from it any time soon.. at
least 5 days anyway.. :-)


"Hiro" <Hiro@discussions.microsoft.com> wrote in message
news:ACAFFE7F-60DD-4CDC-B9C0-4BE7355ADBFA@microsoft.com...
> Sometimes when I go websites, I find ads displaying info about me like my
> location which is dead accurate. It scares me a lot when ever I encounter
> these ads. Is there a way I can view all personal info on Vista and be
> able
> to change it? Much thanks.


--


Mike Hall
MS MVP Windows Shell/User
http://msmvps.com/blogs/mikehall/



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  #5 (permalink)  
Old 06-30-2007
Hiro
 

Posts: n/a
Re: Personal info
Thanks a lot everyone. This helped cleared a lot off my mind when I view
these sites and I hope it helps other people out there.
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